Elements of Effective Sermon Delivery

Yes, it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Moving and school have kept me occupied. I desire to pick it up again, with some new features. Soon.

I developed this quick guide to elements of effective sermon delivery for my Homiletics class at Faith Baptist Bible College. In first semester Homiletics we’re focusing on what to preach – learning to develop an expository sermon from a passage of Scripture. Second semester we’ll focus on how to preach – effectively communicating the sermon. But the guys will be preaching the sermons they’ve been working on this semester, and I wanted to give them a quick, helpful guide to some of the practical aspects of effective sermon delivery. I thought some of  you might benefit from it as well. Here you go. (I don’t usually try to alliterate, it just sort of happened.)

Your Heart

  • Prayerful – Invest time in prayer throughout the preparation process and before the preaching event.
  • Personal – Develop genuine concern, love, and compassion for the people you are speaking to.
  • Passionate – Believe what you are preaching and feel a compelling burden to communicate it.

Your Head

  • Finished – Prepare thoroughly and completely so that you know what the text means and what you will say about it.
  • Familiar – Go over your message repeatedly so that you can communicate freely.
  • Fresh – Review your message close to the time you will preach. Avoid distractions as much as possible without being uncaring or rude to people.

Your Mouth

  • Awake – Do mouth calisthenics to warm up your vocalization muscles.
  • Articulate – Pronounce your words clearly and correctly. Don’t mumble. Read your Scripture text clearly, reverently, and expressively.

Your Face

  • Eye contact – Look everyone you can in the eye at least once.
  • Expressive – Smile. Don’t look mad. Show compassion.
  • Enjoy – You’re preaching the Word of God. What a privilege and joy! Show it.

Your Voice

  • Clear – Lift your voice and enunciate your words. Hydrate before preaching, and while preaching if necessary. Use a small cough drop if needed.
  • Confident – Declare your message without mumbling or stumbling around. Avoid “uh.” Just wait until the thought comes. Speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).
  • Controlled – Purposefully vary your pitch, projection/punch, pace, and pause for emphasis and interest.

Your Hands

  • At ease – Keep them in a natural position.
  • Accentuate – Reinforce what you are saying with appropriate gestures.

Your Body

  • Starting point – The centered pulpit is the most powerful position on the platform. It should be your base of operation. Start from it and, if you move away, return to it.
  • Stability – Maintain a poised yet energetic stance. Avoid nervous or distracting movement.
  • Steps – Move in ways that emphasize the message, keep people’s attention, and connect with the audience.

Your Audience

  • Focus – Concentrate on connecting with them, not on yourself or your notes.
  • Not Fans – Do not seek their approval or affirmation. Speak to please God, not man.
  • Friends – Help them along the journey that you and they are on.

What a Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 4)

Here’s a final look at some of Paul’s exhortations to Timothy when he faced discouragement. You can read Parts 1, 2, and 3 if you haven’t already. These are all taken from 2 Timothy.

  1. Continue in what you have learned. (3:10-17)

The basics don’t change just because ministry is hard. Keep going back to the Word for your own personal encouragement. It is able to give you assurance and equip you to do the work of ministry.

  1. Preach the Word. (4:1-4)

This is a succinct repeat of numbers 3, 8, and 10. The emphasis Paul places on it indicates how important it is. Keep preaching the Word. Do it when you feel like it and when you don’t (v. 2b). Preach in a way that challenges people where they live (v. 2c). Keep it up.

  1. Spend time encouraging someone else who is hurting. (4:9-22)

Paul himself was going through a time of extreme hardship. He asked Timothy to “come to me quickly” (v. 9) because others had abandoned him. As Paul speaks of being left to face the Roman trial by himself (v. 16), his personal hurt is evident. “All forsook me.” He hopes Timothy will pay him a visit.

When we’re discouraged, it can help us to spend time with hurting people in order to lift their spirits. It gets our focus off ourselves. It can break the downward spiral of self-pity and despondency. I don’t know if this was part of Paul’s reason for asking Timothy to come. He may have just wanted Timothy’s company. But Paul evidently did not think that Timothy’s discouraged state of mind would keep him from being an encouragement to Paul. And maybe he thought the trip and the time with Paul would be good for Timothy. Maybe a visit to another discouraged Christian or hurting pastor will be just what you need!

  1. Know that God will never desert you. He stands with you and strengthens you so the message will go out and the people who need it will hear. (4:17)

This is Paul’s ultimate confidence for himself. He felt deserted and hurt (verses 10, 14, 16). But He knew that the Lord had not abandoned him. These are beautiful words!

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me . . .  (v. 17)

Paul took heart in the truth that His Savior was with Him when everyone else left him. I think he wanted his young friend Timothy to know that the Lord was with him during his painful season of ministry as well. These are good words for any hurting or discouraged pastor to read, cling to, and take heart.

Paul, Timothy, and any discouraged minister of God can say, The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! (v. 18)


A Step Back, and The Path Ahead

Last Sunday morning, I shared with our church family that I am stepping back from the role of Senior Pastor. At the end of this post is an excerpt of what I said, explaining the reasons and giving a few details about the plan for moving forward. I have a few thoughts related to this decision to share with you who read this blog.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I have posted several articles recently related to a pastor’s discouragement. I have one more article on this topic yet to post. It’s obvious that discouragement has been part of my experience as a pastor. The assumption of some might be that I resigned because of it. However, I want to be clear that my reason for resigning as pastor of Calvary is not discouragement. There have been times, I’ll be honest, when I have been so discouraged that I was ready to hang it up. But I worked through those times, by the grace of God and with help from my wife and some friends. I began this year with great anticipation of serving the Lord, sharing the Word, and working with our pastoral team here at Calvary.

In mid-January, some circumstances and my ensuing thoughts prompted me to take a step back. (The “circumstances” did not involve another church contacting me 🙂 ). I determined to undergo a period of evaluating God’s will for me and what is best for Calvary. During this two-month period I prayed, meditated on Scripture, sought counsel from a number of advisers and friends, had many conversations with my wife, read suggested books, and did everything I know to do in determining God’s will. The answer became clear to me that God is directing my heart toward a new place of ministry (yet unknown) and that it is time for Calvary to have a new person in the role of Senior Pastor.

As I say in the announcement below, I will always be grateful for the opportunity to minister at Calvary. I have learned much, and hopefully have contributed to the growth of the church and her people. We will miss the dear people of Calvary deeply. I am thankful for the reunion we will enjoy around God’s throne!

We will celebrate our Lord’s resurrection this Sunday. Then I plan to preach four messages on Sunday mornings to prepare everyone for what is ahead. This is my preliminary plan, to be fleshed out over the next few weeks. Titles and themes may change, but it will go something like this:

  • Sunday, April 3 – Be Confident – This will be a message of encouragement for our people.
  • Sunday, April 10 – Be Careful – I will share several warnings the church will need to consider.
  • Sunday, April 17 – Be Committed – The people of Calvary need to remain dedicated to the church and to the cause of Christ.
  • Sunday, April 24 – Be Christ-Focused – Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of the church. He is the Person around whom the church will be unified and will grow even stronger and thrive through the days ahead.

Yes, I know this sounds like Warren Wiersbe. 🙂

I would appreciate your prayer for our church family and for me as we walk this path together. Thank you.


From our church website:

Following is an excerpt of an announcement Pastor Dean shared with our church family this morning. We ask that you please pray for Pastor Dean and Faith as they seek God’s direction for their future ministry.

We love you, Pastor Dean, and we are grateful to the Lord for the twelve years you have faithfully ministered the Word to us.

After a long process of prayer, seeking counsel, and deliberation, I’ve determined it is time to step back from my role as Senior Pastor at Calvary. I believe Calvary needs fresh vision, clear direction, and someone with the gifts and passion to lead the church through its next stages of life and growth. And I believe God has a new place of ministry where Faith and I can use our gifts and experience to serve the Lord and His church.

For a while I have had a question in my heart about whether God may have another assignment for me to complete in my lifetime. I love Calvary and am willing to invest the rest of my life here if that is what God wants. But through prayer and the counsel of a number of people I respect and trust, I have reached a place of certainty in my heart. God has something else for me to do. I do not yet know what that will be. Faith and I are seeking the Lord’s direction and will wait on Him to lead us. It will probably involve pastoring, teaching, or some combination of both. When God is leading, we must obey. I’ve walked with God long enough to know when He is moving me in a direction, and that is what is happening now. I know you will understand that I must follow His will for my life.

Different kinds of leaders with varying gifts and strengths are used at different stages in the life of any organization, especially a church. God used Pastor Guy Altizer to plant and grow this church. He used Dr. Jim Binney to lead and grow the church through a time of transition. And He has used Dean Taylor to lead the church through another stage of maturity, growth, and change. I believe it is time for a new shepherd with fresh vision, clear direction, and the gifts to lead the church in pursuing what God has next for Calvary.

I believe the right person with the right gifts will enable Calvary to go to the next level of fulfilling her potential for the glory of God. I do not want to hinder the growth that can take place here by God’s grace. So I am stepping back to allow Calvary to seek the right person to shepherd the church through its next stages of life and growth.

This is a decision I have considered and made completely of my own initiative. No person or group has pressured me or even suggested that I do this. It is my own decision before God in following His will and doing what is best for our church.

My last Sunday to preach will be April 24 and I will be available for some time after that to give any help necessary to a smooth transition. The pastoral staff, in close coordination with the deacons, will give leadership to the church once I am finished.

Faith and I will always be grateful for the years of life and ministry He has allowed us to have at Calvary. You are dear to us, and we will always treasure you in our hearts.

We love you.

Pastor Dean