Tony Evans Speaks About Preaching
Just within the past few months, Dr. Tony Evans has come out with his book on preaching.
Evans is a master at “analogy“! That analogical-illustrative ability, along with his effective-vocal-presentation style is what makes his book attractive to those seeking to improve.
Here is an example of his effectiveness.
You have probably heard this illustration used to clarify the concept of TRUST or FAITH.
It is a good illustration, and Tony Evans presents it well in word (below) and in voice.
– Prime the Pump –
One day, a man was lost in a desert without water, but he saw an old makeshift structure. He knew he couldn’t make it much longer, so he got to the covering as fast as his worn-out legs could carry him. To his surprise, inside he found a jar of pure looking water. This jar was on the floor next to a pump.
Filled with relief, he walked over to the jar to quench his overbearing thirst. As he reached down to pick up the jar of water, though, he noticed a sign. The sign read, “Use this water to prime the pump. When you have gotten as much water as you need, refill the jar, and leave it for the next person who will pass this way.”
This man suddenly found himself on the horns of a dilemma because he was so thirsty that he was close to dehydration. What if he followed the directions on the sign and there was no water in the well? What if he poured out all of the water he now held in his hand and got nothing in return? Was that worth the risk to even try? The man had to make a decision to either fill himself now, or pour out what he had and take the chance that deep down there was so much more. The man made the choice to prime the pump. It was a good choice because the water flowed freely. He drank to his delight and collected enough water to take him on his journey. Before he left, he filled the jar and placed it next to the note. Under the words of the note, he wrote, “Trust me. It works!”
Giving to others in our horizontal relationship with them is a method of priming the pump of God’s vertical blessings in our lives. You have a choice. You can take the little that God has given you now and consume it for yourself. Or you can use it to prime something that’s got so much more. The choice hinges on whether you believe God’s Word that if you give, it will be given to you. Oh, and trust me, it works (Luke 6:38).
— Tony Evans
There are four points which Evans drives home in his new book on preaching. While they are typically found in most every book on preaching and speaking, his emphasis on them highlights their importance once again!
#1) So What? — If at the end of the message people never grasp how this affects and applies to their lives, you have misspent the hour and more that God’s people have trusted you with.
Pastor, irrelevant sermons — that is, those that have no bearing on people’s lives — fall short of biblical preaching.
The flipside of that is true as well. Entirely “relevant” sermons — those that seek simply to accommodate people’s interests without any biblical anchoring — are not preaching either.
#2) Attention — There are steps you as a speaker can take to help gain and retain the attention of the audience.
If you want your congregants to track with you longer than fifteen seconds, you’re going to need to work hard at making what you are saying relevant enough to gain and retain their attention, The attention of your audience cannot be assumed. It must be won. Never assume that everyone is simply panting to hear what you have to say. Keep your sermon intriguing and interesting without neglecting the biblical point.
Whether that is through stories, biblical text, or illustration, I will keep coming back to this major point because I have learned in over fifty years of preaching that people simply can’t remember everything you say. You have to leave them with something to grasp.
And if my goal in preaching is to make a lasting point that will move people closer to God, I can do this only if they can remember the point I made. Pastor, that’s your job too. You want to make the point, emphasize and explain the point, and they apply the point so that everybody gets the point.
#4) Good-to-Great Public Speaking Takes Work — The work of a preacher is two-fold:
#1) Making sure that what he is teaching is what the passage is saying, and
#2) Working at how to effectively communicate that.
Another hindrance to relevant preaching is sheer laziness on the pastor’s part. Just as it takes work to determine the meaning of a biblical text, it also takes work to effectively communicate that message to your audience. There’s no getting around the need to roll up your sleeves and do the work.
I did wish that Tony Evans had developed more about his methodology in creating and/or designing his illustrations.
Evans did provide some of those insights into that creative process during his interview by H. C. Charles which would have been great to include in his new book.
Nevertheless, Evans is another effective voice which again drives home the importance of these four factors. . . .
√ application – application — application
√ creating and holding attention
√ the Big Idea
√ the work it takes to rhetorically-homiletically improve