I was one of those pastors (perhaps I still am at times). If you preach often, I am sure you can identify with me – you see a problem in the church, so you plan a sermon to preach at the problem, sure that in the end it will cower at your mighty rhetoric.While our ambitions may be admirable, this will probably not fix the problem entirely.
It reminds me of the times that I’ve had a headache and my three-year-old son is quick to offer me a bandaid. His heart is right, but the bandaid will not do anything for my headache (believe me, we’ve tried).
Pastors and preachers, we must remember that our preaching is only 10% of our ministry. 90% of our heavy lifting to change hearts is done through intentional conversations OFF of the stage. If we are not intentional to disciple, counsel, and simply spend time with people then we are not going to have a deeper impact. Even if we deliver the greatest and most convicting sermon our congregation has ever heard (or so we think), our sermon often wears off before their Sunday-afternoon-lunch is fully digested.
You’ve heard the statistic that people only remember 25% of what we say anyway, but when it comes to true life-on-life interaction, I am convinced that most of what is said is taken to heart by the recipient.
So here are a few ways to ensure that you see the change you are hoping for by doing more than just preaching at a problem:
1. Don’t finish on stage and hide backstage. Go out and talk with the people. Consider the time out front after the sermon just as important as the sermon itself.
2. Be available to your people. Find ways to interact with your congregation through meeting with them, phone calls, notes, emails and social media. Some of the most caring pastors I know do amazing ministry through text message and social media. Be intentional to invaid their regular world – not just wait for them to come site in front of your pulpit.
3. Never preach to an issue that you are afraid to confront in a face-to-face meeting. Sometimes we hide behind our pulpits rather than just calling things what they are in a meeting. Don’t do this. Be bold to say what needs to be said to the people at the center of the issue. Then, if you are going to address it from the pulpit, be sure that those you confronted are aware your are going to do this and why it is good for the whole body to hear.
Never underestimate the power of personal and humble interaction. When this is coupled with dynamic preaching the impact is exponentially better than just preaching at the problem.