Many pastors fall into a comfortable rut. They preach the same style of message every week. They use the same kinds of illustrations. They wear the same kinds of clothes. They never take risks. They never ruffle any feathers.Nobody is ever shocked or even slightly offended.
The thing is, sometimes, Jesus shocked people. Sometimes, Jesus offended people.
Jesus was a risky preacher.
Thinking about this, I came up with a list of 41 ways to take a risk preaching. Some might be more risky than others. Some might only feel risky to you, because you have never done it. Some may not be a risk at all because you do it every week.
The idea is to push yourself. Take a risk. Experiment a little so you don’t get stuck doing what you always do. You just might find something you like that you add to your preaching arsenal.
41 Ways to Take a Preaching Risk
- Talk about something controversial. Hit on a biblical conviction that you people in your church are dealing with. Homosexuality, porn, racism, abortion, alcoholism, etc.
- Talk about problems with religious people. Things that church people say and do that are not honoring to God.
- Confess a personal failure. Let your people know you are a sinner in need of a savior just like everyone else.
- Preach without notes. Throw them away. Memorize the outline and just go for it.
- If you are an outline preacher, write a full manuscript of your sermon.
- If you are a manuscript preacher, write only an outline of your sermon.
- If you aren’t good at telling jokes, watch stand up comedy. Take notes and try to work a funny personal story into your message that hits on a real truth about life.
- Get angry. Preach on something that fires you up. Pound the pulpit. Get red in the face. Spit on the front row.
- Get excited. Jump up and down. Run around the stage. Fist pump. Dance. Do the electric slide.
- Preach sitting down. Grab a bar stool and a pub table and do your best Andy Stanley.
- Preach without a podium in front of you. Remove all barriers between you and the audience.
- If you are a topical preacher, preach through a whole book of the Bible. Want to be riskier? Don’t pick an easy one. Leviticus anyone?
- Survey your congregation and preach on their biggest felt needs.
- Practice being more animated in your messages. Get in front of a mirror and work on facial expressions and large gestures.
- If you are a suit and tie preacher, ditch the suite. Preach in casual clothes for a change.
- If you are a casual clothes preacher, put on a suit and tie.
- Wear a costume that somehow ties into your message.
- Experiment with adding different videos or pictures into your message.
- If you never do altar calls, do an altar call. Invite people to come forward to receive Christ.
- If you always do an altar call, don’t. Ask people to raise their hands instead. Ask people to stand up. Ask people to fill out a card. Mix it up. Play around with different ideas.
- If you are a long winded preacher, shock everyone with a 15 minute message.
- If you are a short sermon preacher, preach a 60 minutes message. See what happens. Just make sure you actually have 60 minutes of solid content. Don’t just ramble to fill time.
- Move the service order around. Preach before worship. Preach after worship. Preach in segments between worship songs.
- Use a prop in your sermon. Find a visual illustration to get the point of your sermon across and help people remember.
- Tag team preach a sermon with another member of your staff or a volunteer.
- Don’t preach at all. Give someone else a chance to preach instead of you.
- Record a video of your sermon in advance and just play the video.
- Do a drama. Have people act out the Bible story as you are reading it. It could be funny or serious. It could be rehearsed or spontaneous from random members of the audience.
- Give something to everyone as they are leaving as a reminder of the message for them throughout the week.
- Get more audience participation. Ask questions and get answers. Take a poll by having them raise their hands, standing up… or whatever else.
- Tell a really sad story. Try to get people cry.
- Tell a really funny story. Try to get people to laugh.
- Plan times in your message to mix up your vocal tone. Speak normal, then yell. Stop talking and let a point sink in, then whisper. No more monotone.
- Preach a Bible passage you never heard a sermon on. Or maybe just one you have never preached before.
- Preach an extremely controversial passage of the Bible.
- Preach a really confusing passage of the Bible. Just make sure you can explain it clearly.
- Memorize the passage you are preaching on. Instead of reading it, recite it from memory.
- Use a whiteboard and draw an illustration or write down key words. Even better, use an iPad that is mirrored on the projector screen.
- Plan a crazy entrance on to the stage. Ride a motorcycle. Ride a donkey. Repel from the ceiling. Be sitting in the middle of the audience. Have fun. Shock people. Tie it in to your message.
- Preach in a different location. Record a video of you preaching your sermon in public or at a historical location. Take your entire audience outside and preach there.
- Experiment with different microphones. Use a wireless handheld, wireless headset, lapel mic, or a megaphone. Play around with them and notice the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Push Your Boundaries
These are just a ton of crazy ideas. Use some of them or none of them.
The key is to push your boundaries. Stretch yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Take a few risks.
What is stopping you? If you don’t experiment with your preaching occasionally, you will get stuck in a rut.
The Bible commands us to preach, but it doesn’t tell us how we have to do it. There is no one way to preach. We have freedom here.
God is a creative God. It is OK to be a creative preacher.
Never sacrifice the message. But it’s ok to play around with the method of delivering the message.
By trying new ideas, getting out of your comfort zone and experimenting you will grow more as a preacher than just doing what they taught you in school.
You will find some things you like, and some you don’t. But at least now you know.
Happy risk taking.
QUESTION: What preaching risks have you taken? How did it work out for you? Would you do it again?
Other Posts from the Best Year Yet Series
- Make This Year Your Best Year – Start Here
- 5 Characteristic of Goals that Work – Set Goals
- The Secret to Getting Ahead on Sermon Preparation – Get Ahead
- How to Eliminate Bad Speaking Habits. Umm… Like… You Know? – Speak Better
- Lose Wight; Preach Better – Healthy Body
- Why a Healthy Ministry Requires a Healthy Family – Healthy Family
- Out of the Overflow of the Heart the Preacher Speaks – Healthy Spiritual Life
- 41 Ways to Risky Preaching – Try Something New
- You Don’t Have Time Not to Read – Read More
- The Secret to Winning Time Management – Accomplish More of What Matters
- Do You Make This One Common Preaching Mistake? – Step Away From your Desk