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10 Distinctives of Emotionally Healthy Preaching: Part 1

Posted on January 7th, 2020

Emotionally Healthy Discipleship impacts preaching in multiple ways. Over a 24-year period, I organized these learnings around ten questions that I ask myself, and others, when preaching a message.
In this podcast, I deal with the first five of those questions that ensure we make room for God to do His transformative work in us and then preach in ways that lead others to authentic transformation as well. They are:

1. Am I preaching for Jesus out of a life of being with Jesus?
We are men and women who bring the living God to our people out of our relationship with Him. But I cannot bring Him deeply if I don’t know Him deeply. I cannot bring people in the spiritual journey beyond where I have traveled with Jesus myself. Good exegesis and structuring a message well are important. But perhaps, a more important question is: Do I have enough contemplative time around my text? Do I have time for this truth to sink into my soul and become a part of me? Why? It’s easy for us to be busily preparing sermons for Jesus without enjoying loving union with Him in the process.

2. Am I present to myself and to the people in the room?
It is easy to be thinking about a sermon (e.g. introductions, the flow of content, illustrations) and lose touch with what is happening inside us, i.e. listening to God for ourselves. At the same time, because of our own preoccupation with how we are doing, it is easy to not see the people in front of us. To be present with people, seeing them with the eyes and love of Jesus, is one of the greatest gifts we offer as we preach.

3. Am I allowing the text to intersect with my family of origin and culture?
As leaders and preachers, it is imperative we are profoundly aware of the way our family of origin, and culture, make it difficult for us to live out Scripture in the present. Without significant levels of insight into ourselves, our application of many texts will remain superficial – both to ourselves and to the people we aim to serve.

4. Am I preaching out of my vulnerability and weakness?
In my early years as a communicator, I preached primarily out of my strengths and successes. Sharing weakness or vulnerability was more of a rhetorical strategy to connect with people than a core way to lead for Jesus. I was scared that people wouldn’t listen to a “weak” preacher. But of course, I was wrong, discovering as Paul did that sharing from weakness truly is a place of power (2 Cor. 12:7ff).

5. Am I allowing the text to transform me?
This sounds simple but it isn’t. If we’re preaching sermons without being transformed by them, we shouldn’t expect a lot to happen in our people either.


“P.S. Your people need more than good preaching. If you want to see a deeper transformation in your church, consider piloting the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship Course in 2020. Over 500 churches are currently running the course and we’re confident it will work for your church too! Buy the Course here.”

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