If there were a singular sentence which said to you that you were “effective” in your speech or message, what would that be?
I use the word “effective” — purposefully!
“Successful” carries different overtones. It carries the idea of personal victory or profit.
“Effective” implies that something accomplished its intended goal.
Back to the question. What communicates to you that you have been effective in your communication?
“I exposed what the passage taught.”
“I am an expository preacher.”
“What I said was the truth found in the Scriptures.”
“The truth was stated as best I could make it.”
“God’s people heard what the passage actually teaches.”
“I was true to the Word.”
“I preach the whole counsel of God.”
Any and all of these comments would be welcomed! The number one goal of preaching is that we have said what God says, and not what we think. People need not come to hear us. People need to know what God says.
All these comments center around one general theme — being an expository preacher. “Expository preaching” is what virtually all books on homiletics focus on in today’s world of homiletical examination.
What book on homiletics does not propound “expository preaching” as the only legitimate methodology?
Who does not consider himself an expository preacher? — whether it is true or not!
Who would ever answer “No” to the question, “Are you an expository preacher?”
While the concept of “Topical Preaching” is being resuscitated back to an acceptable preaching methodology, the word “topical” still brings with it a negative connotation.
“Topical Preaching” was confused with “spring-boarding” — taking a word or a phrase from a verse and going off and away on that word or phrase any which way. Today, “Topical Preaching” is correctly seen as expository preaching about a biblical truth from several different passages.
Obviously, one of the worse things which can be said about a message is that it wasn’t what the passage teaches — “You did not expose the truth of the passage!”
Probably, all preachers have failed at “expository preaching” now and again! Have you ever preached from a passage which you later realized or were told, “That is not what the passage teaches” — ugh — That is a downer!
Notwithstanding, let me suggest a few other words which might be included in a statement which communicates that a preacher has been effective . . . .
clarity – I have clearly communicated the truth found in the passage.
variety – I have tried yet a different way to communicate the truth found in the passage.
passionately — I have taught God’s truth in a way that communicates that I am passionate about what it has to say.
persuasively – I have sought to convince the audience of the truth and wisdom of following the truths of the passage.
affectively – I have communicated the truth found in the passage in a way that people can see and feel it, not just know about it.
sensitively — I have taught God’s truth in a way that communicates that I care about the listeners, and respect that they have given their time to be here to listen.
thoughtfully — I have taken the time to think through both what to say, and how it can be communicated in the best possible way.
I am sure there might be a few more words and/or sentences which would lead us to conclude that we have been effective in our attempts to accurately communicate God’s Word.
How about “sufficient” – “reasonable” or “succinct?”
When we are effective, a corresponding listener’s response might well be — “Oh, has he finished already?” Effectiveness in any and/or several of the ways described above ought to leave the listeners wanting to hear more.
For sure — no one wants to hear these words . . . .
ugh – That’s a downer!
Those words may be more frequently thought by the audience than many speakers would honestly recognize or concede.
Finish leaving them desirous of more!
(Not debating whether they want to come back)
→ There are significant differences between effective and ineffective speakers.
→ There are preachers which leave you saying, “I want to hear them more!”
→ “Effective Preachers” may well reflect a variety of abilities and skill, but they all leave you coming back to hear again and again. Why? — Because they are effective communicators of God’s truths!
Here is one such example!
P. S. Effectiveness:
Sometimes that means “less is more.”
Sometimes that means speaking less than anticipated.
Sometimes that means that we understand that listening has real limits.