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You’re Preaching? Good. Here is What I Need
By Roger Hernandez
Hi my name is Janet Doe, from your church in Anytown. I have had an interesting week, challenged on many fronts. It seems like my life is a like a rollercoaster. My faith, finances and family have been on my thoughts a lot lately. Now I’m here in church. Sorry for the late arrival, but it was crazy just getting here. It’s your turn to preach.
These are the things that I need as you speak today:
  1. I need you to preach the bible.
I understand you have opinions. That’s good. They are probably very similar to some of mine. But I don’t need your opinions today. I long to hear God’s voice, not your opinions backed up by a couple of texts. I can tell when you have preached the Bible. It stays with me all week.
  1. I need you to make it real.
I live in the real world. Real temptations, real sins, real family and racial issues. When you start speaking adventese, quoting the Greek every 10 minutes and dedicating more time to make sure the oratory flows rather than connecting the Bible with what I am going through, you lose me. It doesn’t take long. Stop it with the long pointless introductions and extra announcements. I did not come to church to hear about the next Pathfinder car wash. I came to encounter Jesus. For announcements give me a bulletin. I can read. I have enough information. I need transformation.
  1. I need you to say it in a new way.
Nothing worse than a cliché filled message. Saying it in a new way involves preparation and substantial time in study. I know you have a million things to do. Please don’t cower under the pressure of those few terrorists that are holding our church back and want you to be all things to all people. Tell me the old story in way I’ve never heard before, with an application I’ve never thought of before.
  1. I need you to keep it short.
The gospel is eternal, your sermons don’t have to be. Stop chasing the rabbits. After the endless repetitions and rabbit chasing I wonder whether church must be endured or enjoyed. I’m not an expert in public speaking and I don’t pretend to know a lot about your job, but at mine, when a person goes on and on it usually means they have not prepared well. Remember KISS? No, not the band. The principle for speaking in public.
  1. I need you to get off your hobby horse.
What’s up with that? Aren’t there other topics you can preach about? You have beaten that dead horse so much, it came back to life, and you killed it again. Last pastor we had it was the final events. Prophecy is great, but it’s not the only thing. Preach the whole Bible, not just the parts you like and are comfortable with.
  1. I need you to get fresh illustrations.
The stories about your family every week are getting old. By the way, I’ve heard you repeat the same story at least three times. I remember. It keeps changing though, what’s up with that? Read. Get off Facebook and Twitter for a bit (not completely) and read a good book. Or two. Give me some suggestions about books that you are reading that have blessed you. Illustrations are everywhere when you read.
  1. I need you to be you.
You are not Jose Rojas, Dwight Nelson or E.E. Cleveland. I love you, because you are my pastor. You were there when my family member died. You were there when they took away our house. Don’t try so hard. Not everybody likes you in this church, but many do. Stop changing your style because of the ones who don’t. Be you. Christ-like. Loving. Real.
By the way, I thank you for the sermon you are about to preach today. I’m sure it will be a blessing.
If you  want to connect with the Janets in your church, here are some resources for better presentations:
  1. Slide:ology. Nancy Duarte
  2. Presentation Secrets. Alexei Kapterev
  3. Everybody speaks, few connect. John Maxwell
  4. Lessons From the World's Most Captivating Presenters [SlideShare] by Marta Kagan
This article is a chapter in Roger Hernandez’s new book entitled Min Is Try.