For many years I have obsessed over studying great preaching and preachers. They are all different. All have their own unique style and approach to delivering a message.
However, there are 7 characteristics that they all have in common.
1. Preach with Borrowed Authority
The best preachers do not preach from their own authority, but from God’s.
You are an ambassador of Christ. You are representing Him. Stay true to His word. Anything you say is just an opinion. Anything God says is law. Don’t apologize for what He says.
2. Preach with Flexibility
The best preachers keep an open ear to the Holy Spirit.
Plan and prepare thoroughly, but don’t be so tied to your script that you have no room for the Spirit to move. Often the best moments of a message are the ones that were unscripted. Some of the most powerful things we say are the words that come to us in the middle of a message.
3. Preach with the Body
The best preachers don’t just preach with their lips, but with their whole body.
Body language says a lot. If you stand still and don’t move, chances are your people will not be moved by the message either. Loosen up.
When you are passionate about something you move. Think about your body language the last time you had a heated argument, were comforting someone who was crying, or watched your team win in the final seconds of the game. These natural emotions and movements should carry over into your preaching as well.
4. Preach with Conviction
The best preachers have been personally convicted by the message God has given them long before they ever preach it.
If the message has not deeply affected you, it will not affect your listeners. Let it change your life first. You can only lead your people as far as you have gone yourself. This is how a preacher comes across as being authentic. It won’t just be theoretical talk. You will be preaching from experience.
People will be able to feel that you actually practice what you preach. They will sense that you actually buy what you are selling. In todays culture of many fakes, there is nothing more attractive than real authenticity.
5. Preach with Passion
The best preachers are passionate. They preach with a sense of anticipation of what amazing things God might accomplish in His people through His word in this moment.
If you are not excited about what you are saying, how can you expect anyone else to be? It is tragic to make the most amazing story ever told boring.
Get fired up about the message. Bottle it up and stir it up within you all week so much that by Sunday (or whenever you preach) you cannot contain it anymore and the message explodes out of you.
6. Preach with Urgency
The best preachers preach with a sense of urgency. They feel the urgency of the Gospel. They know that time is short and eternity is long.
We have a message that is literally the difference between life or death. The implications are Heaven or Hell. Our time is short. Life is a vapor. We never know if this will be our last message or theirs.
Don’t act like the people listening have forever to make a decision. The time to act is now. We are never guaranteed another moment. Preach the gospel like there is no tomorrow, because one day there won’t be.
7. Preach with Compassion
Last but not least, the best preachers preach with heartfelt compassion for their people.
Loving to preach and loving those we preach are two very different things. You need to know their greatest pain, fears, failures, and struggles. Once you know your people on a more intimate level, your preaching will naturally flow out of your compassion for them.
If you do all the above and miss love, you will be nothing more than a man making a lot of noise. (1 Corinthians 13:1) But when you preach with love for your people, you can say a tough word or two and they will understand that you are only saying it out of love, like a father warns his child not to play in the street.