In recent years TED talks have taken the world by storm. It is incredible that one person sharing an idea with passion has become so popular amongst our CGI drenched and social-media addicted world.

TED Talks (short for Technology, Entertainment and Design) are relatively short talks given by people from all walks of life. From JJ Abrams to JJ Krosoczka (no, I hadn’t heard of him either), all of which have one thing in common: a passion for the subject they are talking about. These speakers (none of which get paid by the way) talk because they are passionate about their message. They take the opportunity very seriously, putting an enormous amount of time and effort into condensing their life passion into a 15 minute talk.

With this in mind may I ask the following questions…

  • What if the church stage, and not the TED stage became the place that was renowned for the world’s most inspirational talks? Would people flock to our church gatherings like they do to the TED events?
  • What would happen if those entrusted with the greatest TED talk in the universe, spoke with the passion that Bono talks about reconciliation, or Jane Goodall talks about Gorillas?

The sermon was the TED talk of yesteryear. The message is the same, the greatest message in history – His Story, is the story we are to tell.

Sadly, though many Believers don’t enjoy the sermon… they endure it.

This saddens me.

I yielded to the Call of God in my life in the mid 90s, and every time I was about to preach I was racked by anxiety, nervousness and nausea… for years.

I am still far from perfect and still get nervous, but have determined to continue to practice, to improve, and to speak with passion, because I have been called to be the teller of the greatest story ever – and if you have read this far, quite possibly so have you.

I hope that the following advice will be of some help.

1. Believe (and live) what you preach

God used the open-air preaching of George Whitefield in a way that changed hearts and history.  David Hume, a Scottish sceptic in philosophy, would travel 20 miles to hear Whitefield preach.  Someone once asked, “I thought you didn’t believe what he preaches?”  Hume responded, “I don’t, but he does.”

2. Answer questions people are asking

A survey was made of 4000 laymen in 114 evangelical churches across the U.S. They were asked, “Do you feel the preaching on Sunday relates to what’s going on in your life?” Over 83% saw virtually no connection between what they heard on Sunday morning and what they faced on Monday morning. It was Martin Luther who said, if we preach the gospel but do not address the issues of our day, we are not preaching the gospel at all.

3. Be interesting

I cannot say it any better than Charles Swindoll who wrote: “If you think the gathering of biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in your hand will automatically equip you to communicate well, you are desperately mistaken. It will not. You must work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation, being dull is a grave offense, and irrelevance is a disgrace to the gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we preachers are the criminals.”

4. Be easily understood

I used to cringe every time someone told me I was a simple preacher, until I realised I was unpacking sometimes difficult biblical Truths in a way that people understood and could apply to there lives. Now, I take it as a compliment.

5. Work hard to improve your craft

Professional musicians practice for hours most days, simply to maintain their current skill-level.  How I wish many preachers did the same.

6. Love your listeners

We could be the world’s greatest orator, but if we don’t speak with love, we will probably be doing more harm than good. ALWAYS be a hope-giver.

7. Be Christ-centred

Weave in the message of the cross in every sermon you preach. Lift Jesus up and the Holy Spirit will work wonders with your preaching.

So preacher… you have a greatest story to tell. The power of the spoken word is phenomenal, so wield it properly and passionately.