How To Build A Sermon Delivery System

Are you guilty of homiletical ventriloquism?

I can hear my preaching professor at Beeson Divinity School, Dr. Robert Smith, hollering at me to 'Make it plain!!!'

Got it, Doc.

Have you found your voice or are you borrowing someone else's voice?

If you're just getting started as a preacher, it's likely that you find yourself using the words, cadence and non-verbals of other preachers you respect.

But what happens if you never find your own voice?

Maybe you really latch onto someone else's style because you find it captivating.

Perhaps you become convinced that the way someone else explains, applies or illustrates a text is far more effective than anything you might come up with on your own.

Every tribe has preachers they point to as uncommonly effective.

And, please, let's admire them and thank God for them!

But don't hide your voice because their voice is so effective.

And if you don't know how to find your voice, I can help you.

What I've found in my own journey of more than 20 years and through my work with hundreds of pastors is that there are two things you need to find your voice.

First, you need experience.

The more opportunities you have to preach, the more you'll learn about how God has wired you to tell people the good news of all that God has done through Jesus Christ.

Second, you need a sermon delivery system.

You need a process, a plan, a framework that helps you discover and develop an approach to preaching that is faithful to the biblical text and frees you to be yourself. 

What goes into a sermon delivery system? Let me show you:

1. Cultivate spiritual health. 

Too many preachers have let themselves go spiritually.

The reasons vary but two indicators stand out among the rest.

First, a lack of prayer. Both in the amount of time spent and the content of those prayers.

Second, an absence of deep relationships with other men. Our friendships rarely go beyond the surface.

And because our job is to be a spiritual leader, we are forced to fake our way through Sundays. Carrying ourselves as though we have been with Jesus and have been changed by him since the previous Sunday.

That's the bad news. Now here's some good news.

Spiritual health does not require spiritual perfection.

In fact, the hallmark of spiritual health is its simplicity.

Honesty and hope. Repentance and faith.

A real life with the real Jesus that shapes prayers and friendships.

2. Decide On Notes, No Notes or Something In Between.

I don't preach with notes.

For the past six years, the only thing I take with me when I preach is my Bible.

No post-it-notes inside of my Bible. No outline. No devices like a teleprompter.

Does it make me more effective as a preacher? Yes.

It works for me.

But it doesn't work for everyone.

Name a method - manuscript, outline, post-it-note, etc. - and I can point you to an outstanding preacher who uses that method to bring their study into the pulpit.

So how do you know what's right for you?

First, start with the method you are most comfortable with.

Then, reduce your notes incrementally. If you use a manuscript, spend a month using an outline. Then spend a month with a 3x5 card of notes. Then spend a month preaching all or parts of your sermon with nothing written down.

Be patient and explore your options, particularly if you are new to preaching.

Do I think you should try to preach without notes?

Yeah, I do. At least try it.

The reason it makes me more effective is because it communicates to the congregation that this message is embedded in my head and heart.

And I love it because there is nothing in my life that causes me to trust the Holy Spirit more than the 40 minutes every week when I'm preaching and all my prep work is 20 minutes away in my home office.

But in the end? You need to be yourself.

All I'm encouraging you to do is to explore the possibilities that might bring more of you to life as you preach.  

3. Understand how you grab people's attention.

There are multiple ways to start a sermon.

Tell a story. Make it funny. Make it dramatic.

Report on a current event.

Summarize a previous sermon or series of sermons.

Which way is the right way?

Whichever way most naturally suits you.

If you're a great storyteller, tell great stories.

If you can effectively recap last week's message and build a bridge to today's sermon, make it happen.

If you can say things with an uncommon intensity, bring the thunder.

Certainly, the context of your text and/or topic should play a significant role in determining how you start a sermon.

But don't discount what you do best as a communicator. 

4. Evaluate every sermon you preach.

One of my favorite questions to ask preachers is 'how do you evaluate your sermons?'

I always learn a lot from the different ways that someone looks back and determines the effectiveness of their sermon.

I also know that most preachers don't consistently evaluate their sermons. And those who do often create something that is either too complex or pays attention to relatively minor issues.

If you're looking for a simple way to evaluate a sermon, use these three questions:

  • What was the best part of the sermon?
  • If you could do it again, what would you have done differently?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how effective was the sermon?

Let me say something about that last question. If I'm using that to evaluate myself, I'm comparing this sermon to past sermons that I've preached. And I consider a '5' to be a normal sermon. So a '4' or a '6' isn't a bad sermon; it just means that it's an average Matt Adair sermon.

Can you ask more questions? Sure. And you might need to if you have a particular aspect of preaching you want to focus on. But I use this with our preaching team and it has been very, very effective. 

Do The Next Right Thing

To learn more about what it takes to build a Sermon Delivery System, download our FREE resource, The 3 Systems You Need To Preach Better Sermons.

It will help you evaluate your preaching and provide clear next steps to help you continue to grow as a preacher.

Comment below with questions or observations. And feel free to share this with others using the menu at the bottom of the screen.

Thanks for the opportunity to help you get the most out of your preaching!

How To Build A Sermon Preparation System

Consistency or talent?

If you know Aesop's Fable about the tortoise and the hare, you can see the power of consistency.

But consistency is hard to find in pastoral ministry.

We don't exactly work 9-5, do we?

So a lot of us rely on talent instead.

When it comes to preaching, our busy schedules leave us scrambling to find time to be ready for the weekend.

Why do we settle for this? And what can you do about it?

How To Build A Sermon Planning System

Do you know where you're going?

An annoying question when your wife asks you. Especially when you're obviously lost :-)

But knowing where you're going is one of the secret weapons of preaching.

And it doesn't get enough attention. Which is too bad because it goes a long way in determining whether you keep your head above water.

Or drown.

How do you do this? How do you plan ahead and avoid living sermon-to-sermon, or series-to-series?

How Do You Get Better As A Preacher?

All of us struggle in different seasons of ministry to find our voice, be consistent in our preparation, and think ahead about what God wants to say to the people we lead.

In this fifteen minute video, I talk about two common mistakes preachers make when they want to improve their preaching and the three systems every preacher needs to consistently grow into the best version of themselves.

Let's Talk About Why You're Not Improving As A Preacher

Nothing matters more to the work of a pastor than preaching. However, most pastors hit a wall where they stop developing as a preacher. These seasons are personally frustrating and potentially damaging to the churches we lead.

In this fifteen minute video, I talk about one of those seasons in my life, the lessons I learned and share common mistakes we make when we try to get our preaching back on track.

From relying too much on more information to attempting to improve on your own, these mistakes won't help you improve - they'll actually set you back even further. 

Do You Make These Massive Leadership Development Mistakes?

Developing other leaders is vital to the health of any organization and institution, including the Church. Consistently, however, church leaders make critical mistakes that cripple their best efforts.

In this ten minute video, I talk about three mistakes most churches make in developing leaders and what you can do to avoid these common pitfalls.

From rethinking how you define leadership to the power of a consistent development plan, you need to understand and put these things into practice if you want to build a great team that frees you up to focus on work that matters most. 

What You'll Learn In This Episode

  1. Your church has more leaders than you realize
  2. Emerging leaders need more than just theological training.
  3. How to build a simple and sustainable system that develops every leader in your church. 

Do The Next Right Thing

Pick up one of the resources that I reference in the video and link below. I created each of these to help you in different aspects of leadership development.

36 Resources For Growing Leaders - helps you clarify leadership competencies and provides resources that develop the knowledge, skills and character needed in your leaders.

How To Develop Amazing Leaders - unlocks the puzzle of leadership development based on research in more than 150 churches.

Pipeline Academy - a revolutionary, step-by-step system that helps you design and install a leadership pipeline for your church in as little as four weeks!

Important Links and Mentions From This Episode

  1. FREE - 36 Resources For Growing Amazing Leaders 
  2. FREE Webinar - 'How To Develop Amazing Leaders In Your Church
  3. Online Training Program - Pipeline Academy: start designing your leadership pipeline today! 

Thank You For Watching!

There is a lot of content you could be taking in today, but you chose mine, and I'm grateful for that! If this was helpful for you, I'd really appreciate it if you shared it via email or social media using the menu below. 

Four Competencies Required To Be A Successful Leader

Successful leaders are faithful to a handful of core beliefs and are fruitful in building something bigger than themselves.

In this ten minute video, I talk about four competencies every leader needs to develop if they want to be a successful leader. 

From self-awareness to empowering others, you need to understand and put these things into practice if you want to help other people reach a common goal!

Here Are 3 Simple Ways Leaders Become Better Readers

Leaders are readers but sometimes reading gets you in trouble

Funny story...

It's mid-December 1981, and I've been reading chapter books for a few months. I'm five years old.

My family is driving from Abilene, Texas to Birmingham, Alabama for Christmas. I'm in the back seat of a brown VW bus reading the book adaptation of the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

We stopped for gas somewhere between Dallas and Shreveport (a brutal stretch of I-20, by the way) and my mom asked me to read to her.

Now remember that I'm in first grade.

But I got this, right?

So off I go blazing a trail of words.

'Hey, wait a second. What did you just say?' I knew that tone from my mom. I had done something wrong, but she didn't want me to think I had done something wrong. At least not yet.

'Will you read that word again?'

'Yes, ma'am.' 

I looked at it. B-A-S-T



Sometimes reading gets you in trouble, right?

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