While this post is directed at pastors, it is important to note that the following is applicable to any speaker under nearly all circumstances. Yet in thinking about the responsibility of a pastor and what has become expected of pastors, I think there is a fine line between creating a circus atmosphere as opposed to a God honoring time of genuine worship where the attention of the audience is maintained. Let’s face it we have all been board to tears by a pastor who although well meaning nevertheless put us to sleep to dream of that island vacation from it all. It’s not an issue with the Word only the method of delievery.
It has been noted that the average listener is in essence asking the speaker “why should I listen” which is a valid question; and considering that most audiences, according to studies, will on the outset give a speaker their attention but only for a short time places a lot of pressure on the pastor. In fact experts note he has about 3 minutes to gain the attention of the audience; after that they are prone to let their minds wander. So that it is important that he introduces his topic well and an anecdote relevant to the overall topic is perhaps the best solution. If he does one that is personal without causing hurt or pain to loved ones connects even better to your audience. In the past I have used something as simple as a piece of string given out to each member in the audience as an illustration of the overall application of a text of Scripture. This illustrates that creativity does not have to be expensive just … well … creative.
Consider, I am amazed that the Scriptures actually contain only a handful of unique doctrinal concepts and yet the same doctrines are presented in unique ways so that they are reinforced. In fact the entire ministry of Jesus was spent in essence making the same points over and over again just in varying ways. His teaching may be summarized as teaching that we should love God without bounds, our neighbors as we do ourselves (two impossible things), and that only in Him do both become possible. And it is this last point which comprised the majority of His ministry. The preacher of the Scriptures then, if they are to be preached systematically and exegetically, will be of necessity preaching the same truths many times over so that great care must be made to present these truths afresh lest he weary his audience.
For instance Jesus taught we are to “love our neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27) and immediately, upon a self justifying question from a lawyer, entered into the parable of the Good Samaritan. Similarly Paul in addressing the believer’s liberties in Christ references Jesus’ teaching implying that not doing so (loving your neighbor) is an opportunity for the flesh (Gal 5:13). And James references the same teaching (Jas 2:8) to speak against showing partiality. So while the truth “love your neighbor” is the foundational text, each in there own context gives the preacher the ability to teach this in three fresh ways.
A little creativity is not a bad thing but we must remain on guard and not create a circus then call it worship.
Think about it.