How to Inspire Your Congregation
Little can be more inspiring to a local group of church goers than a well-prepared pastor who delivers a rousing message. This hub outlines ten steps to preaching motivational sermons.
Step 1: Be the Message
Of course all sermons are written and delivered to glorify God and to draw others to be effective citizens of God's kingdom; however, if you want your congregation to listen to your Sunday messages then you must be an example of God's love and holiness; grace and truth. You do not have to be perfect, but you must be kind and gentle and have faith that God can do more in your life and in the life of your congregation then you could ever think or imagine.
Step 2: Set Your Ego Aside
The second step to deliver a motivational sermon is to set aside your ego. It is easy to want to be awe inspiring. No one stands before a group of others and wants to be boring. Sadly, some become pastors because they want others to think they are great and want to be big men in the sight of other human beings. However, like John the Baptist told his followers in John chapter 3, a preacher's job is to cause Jesus to grow in the sight of his congregation. Jesus must increase and the minister must decrease.
Step 3: Surrender Your Will and Pray God's Anointing
After you set aside your ego, you must surrender yourself to the Lord and pray for His anointing. The work of God's kingdom is not the type of endeavor that any man, woman, or child can do on their own strength or wisdom. In order to deliver an awe inspiring sermon, you must rely on the presence and the power of God's Holy Spirit. This means you must completely surrender yourself to God and his will. To surrender yourself pray as Moses did, confessing that you know that you cannot speak even one good word unless God speaks it through you. Thank him for being allowed to be his vessel and give him full reign over your thoughts, mannerisms and words. When you pray, as James admonishes do not waver in unbelief or doubt.
Step 4: Let God's Word Guide Your Message
Personally, I am a fan of verse by verse preaching. I think God's word gives proper weight to each topic related to being better citizens of his kingdom. However, whether you preach verse by verse or topically, you must allow your message to spring from God's Holy Scriptures. Many preachers use the Bible as a reference guide. They think about a topic which seems relevant to their congregation and then look for Bible passages that apply to the topic. After they find verses that they think support their pet theory, they then turn to other reference guides like a concordance or commentary or the internet to find other more contemporary illustrations. God says that his word will go out and not return to him void. It will do what God wants it to do. Man's words and pet theories cannot measure up to the power and persuasivenes of the Bible. Make the Bible the backbone of your message and your congregation will be empowered to do God's will and work.
Step 5: Give Yourself 20 to 25 Hours per Sermon
Here you might say: "You got to be kidding, man. 25 hours, I'm a pastor of a small struggling church. Get real, you can't be serious." However, I have found that quality comes with preparation. Everyone remembers that Winston Churchill was a man of many monumental words and phrases, but few know that each famous saying was painstakingly crafted through many hours of dictating, editing and re-writing. If Churchill thought it necessary to spend hours upon hours for the purpose of human politics; how much more the man of God representing the King of the Universe! Some will say: "I just stand up there and let the Holy Spirit speak." I used to do the same and my messages were weak and pitiful. Finally, one day one wise Christian friend asked me, "Can't the Holy Spirit who speaks to you on the day of sermon also speak to you a week before the message is to be delivered?" When I began putting in the compulsory amount of time to script out God's message, I began speaking with power and confidence because I knew they were God's well ordered words and not some measily stuff from the shallow recesses of my feeble mind.
Step 6: Write Your Sermon in a Series of Two Minute Modules
This tip comes from the seminar I attended in Thailand. In order to prepare a motivational sermon, you must break each point and subpoint down into two minute modules. This means boiling your stories down into power-packed, awe inspiring illustrations that grab the congregation just long enough to get the point across.
Step 7: Make the Whole Worship Service Awe Inspiring
A Sunday morning service is made up of more than just the sermon. Most churches begin with a period of singing and prayer in order to draw the people into the presence of God. This time is not about entertaining the people, but about helping them to get their minds off the hubbub of life and focused on the Lord and what He would want to say to them through the respective sermon. Orchestrating a Spirit-filled worship service can aide in delivering a motivational Sunday morning message.
Step 8: Give Your Congregation an Outline to Follow
The seventh step to preparing a motivational sermon is to give the memebrs of the congregation an outline to follow. Pastor Rick Warren is a master at this. The sermon handout at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California is more detailed than most other churches and is very interactive. Folks follow along and circle words and fill in blanks which gives the people in the pews more exposure to the content. It ultimately keeps them actively engaged with each point of the sermon.
Step 9: Deliver One Clear Action Point
If you want your Sunday message to be transformational, you must give the congregation something to go home with; meaning something to do, an action point. So when preparing ask yourself, better yet, ask God that one question: what one or two things does God want the congregation to apply from the sermon?
Step 10: Be Passionate
Finally, the tenth step to delivering an awe inspiring message is to be passionate about it. Many evangelical preachers think it is ungodly to be emotional when speaking God's message. Hogwash! Let yourself go! You have been entrusted with the Words of Life, so let them fly with all the gusto you can muster. Of course to speak boldly you have to be confident about the subject God has placed on your heart. Furthermore, it is difficult to be confident when you are not prepared. So be diligent to prepare well and you will place yourself in a good position to speak with authority.
Bonus: Don't Read Your Sermon
One bonus tip is: don't read your message notes verbatim. Likewise do not try to memorize your message; when you miss a point in a memorized sermon, your mind can get all tangled up and then begin to go blank out of confusion. Simply speak to the congregation like you are having a cup of coffee with them at Starbuck's which includes passionate storytelling. After you have scripted out your message, trim the main points down to short one liners to help guide your thinking when the time comes.