If you read one article about 3 point preaching, read this one.

The three point sermon has been around for as long as most of us can remember. In fact, its roots are in medieval scholasticism. Designed to articulate and defend as set of beliefs, the three point sermon can on one hand provide a thorough understanding of a scripture or theory, but it can also transform a living, breathing community gathering into a lifeless lecture.

I remember learning the art of the 3 point sermon in college. It made sense but seemed eerily similar to writing a research paper. I could feel the life being sucked out of me imagining a future filled with weekly sermons covered in a professor's "red pen" corrections.

Over the last several hundred years three point sermons may have had their place, but in a community reaching church they may have run their course.


The 3 Point Roots

A three point sermon is a dialectical teaching method originally designed as a non-emotional discussion between two scholars. In an effort to discover the truth, two or more individuals would calmly debate an issue to better understand the truth hidden beneath the surface.

Preaching in this traditional style means presenting two opposing views of the issue at hand. For example, if you were teaching on the Sovereignty of God your three points may follow this form.

Point 1. The Sovereignty of God
Point 2. The will of Man
Point 3. How they co-exist.

This form of teaching has it’s place when teaching theology, but I would argue that that debate of theology isn’t the first sermon I want my neighbor to hear when I invite them to church for the first time.


The More Common 3 Point Message

The more common modern 3 point message is built around delivering the top three reasons a truth is a truth. For example, if your teaching was focused on the approachability of Christ, you may unpack Hebrews, chapter 4.

Point 1. Jesus, our great High-Priest (v14)
Point 2. Jesus, undeniably sympathetic (v15)
Point 3. Jesus, merciful and gracious. (v16)

Again, these points are truth, but it seems as though our message is still based in the ancient Greek debate. It seems like we are just trying to convince our audience.


The Danger of the 3 Point Message

The danger of a 3 point message is that it too closely resembles a scholastic exercise and it doesn’t very often consider the audience. More often then not, it only considers the text.


The (2nd) Most Important Thing About Preaching

The most important thing about preaching is obviously truth, but a very close second is the audience. What you teach about any given scriptural truth must first consider the current condition of your audience. How are they struggling with the truth you are teaching? How are they experiencing it in their life right now? What is their context?

What Jesus, Paul and much of the New Testament authors did so well was to consider their audience.

Jesus spoke to Jews in a way that challenged their current belief.

Paul wrote to the church addressing specific issues they were facing.

They considered their audience.

First, looking at the text you will be teaching from next week, what is it teaching? What should your audience be doing after reading this text?

Then consider your audience. What are they doing? Which if their life situations does this truth apply to? Why is it an important truth for them to internalize?

Then spend your time helping them navigate their currently situation to apply the teaching.

Preaching isn’t an academic exercise, it’s an adventure in shepherding.

Preaching isn’t an academic exercise, it’s an adventure in shepherding.
— StevenJBarker

3 Ways To Level Up Your Preaching

We take our jobs seriously. We know that if we want to have a greater impact we need to constantly be improving. If we are going to lead our church to the next level we need to take our skills to the next level and nothing gets stage time like preaching.

It’s time to level up your preaching.

  1. Address the group’s specific need.
    Think of Paul, why did he write his letters? He wasn’t their pen pal, he was addressing what they were dealing with. Know what your church needs to learn in order to take their next step. Know what they (as a whole) are dealing with….then address that.
  2. Step up your follow up.
    How are you engaging your audience on Wednesday? Reach out to them by email, social media or any other appropriate channel you use and encourage them. Help them remember what you talked about that weekend. What was your message application? Send them some helpful tips or further study on the topic.
  3. Make it a spiritual experience.
    It’s church. It’s already a spiritual experience, right? Help your church expect God’s movement. Tell them that you’ve been praying and prepping for this message. Tell them God has them here because he loves them. Tell them He wants to know them more. Tell them God is moving, even if it’s a still small voice. Because he is, it’s church after all.

Add any one of these to your workflow and you have successfully leveled up your preaching. Congrats. Your church is worth it.

The Honest Guide to Managing Critical Feedback

Feedback hurts, especially when it’s right.

We all enjoy succeeding. We enjoy that feeling of knowing we are contributing in our unique way, helping the organization move forward towards it’s goals. But when someone, especially someone we respect, shines a light on the areas we’ve been ignoring…it sucks. It’s like being kicked in the chest.

Honst Guide.jpg

I’m perfect in almost every way, so when a friend pulls me aside to direct my attention to an area I’ve been ignoring it’s not a very fun experience. I’ve found though, that dealing with true but negative feedback in a systematic way can help address the blindspot and get things back on track.

1. Scrape Yourself Up Off the Floor

When you respect the individual giving the feedback the truth they speak can feel like an emotional punch in the gut. Understanding the fact that it will take you some time to emotionally recover is an important step in the process. This person has highlighted an area you’d rather ignore and it’s not going to be fun to uncover it, but it’s something that needs to be done. It’s natural to feel embarrassed.

Give yourself some time. Maybe for you that’s a couple hours, maybe it’s a couple days, but pay close attention to when you're done "scraping yourself off the floor." Then it's time to move on to the next step.

2. Unpack Their Feedback

Now that you’ve moved past the emotion and the embarrassment, it’s time to review their feedback. What helpful areas did they uncover? It’s easy to take this feedback as a commentary on your own abilities. Let me tell you though, no matter what they’ve said, it’s not.

Their feedback, no matter how specific it is, is purely an cry for you to review your priorities.

They are helping you assess what’s most important right now. You might have areas where you feel like you’re doing great and it's frustrating that that area is being ignored. You might even hear yourself saying "Why focus on this? Aren't I doing great in other areas?" Remember, they aren’t ignoring those areas, they are merely highlighting an area of oversight.

3. Formulate a Plan

Now that you’ve identified the problem(s) and reassessed their level of priority it’s time to formulate a plan. How are you going to address this problem? Who can you ask to help? Do you need to begin to staff your weaknesses?

4. Announce Your Plan

Once you’ve formulated your plan, share it with your critic. If they truly cared enough to share the problem with you, they’d love to help you implement your solution. Do them the courtesy of sharing your plan.

5. Follow Through

Don’t stop at number 4 or your just a person with great intentions. Follow through. If you haven’t read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, pick up a copy [link] and start putting your plan into action.

Feedback isn’t necessarily a criticism of you, it’s a criticism of your priorities…which are always worth re-evaluating.

Feedback isn’t necessarily a criticism of you, it’s a criticism of your priorities.

Question of the day: Who in your life has given you the healthiest feedback?