Don’t you hate it when you get done preaching and someone comes up to you and launches into their own 18 point rebuttal of what you just said? It’s nerve-wracking, frustrating, discouraging, and annoying.
Every prophet and teacher in Scripture, especially Jesus faced resistance to their teaching! So should we not expect the same?
This has happened to all of us to some degree in our ministry, but one way to plan for it is to challenge anticipated resistance to your point or conclusions during the sermon. You see we have a problem when we say something that might be mind-blowing to someone out in the audience and then we just leave it as fact without really working to push back on the challenges to accept what we said.
We must prepare to answer challenges people will have to the text, to interpretation, to cultural relevance and many other things. But I am not talking about just writing down a list of talking points so you can answer questions after the service or the next day with a ten paragraph email. No I am talking about actually addressing the areas of resistance in your actual sermon body.
This way when someone goes, “oh wow I do not agree with that,” in the next breath you are already anticipating and acknowledging their resistance. Obviously this is not going to work for every person and in every situation, but it can be very helpful to you in your preaching.
Remember these principles:
Does it Intellectually or Logically Connect
Many times we can say a point or even just something in passing and someone in the audience goes “woah that just did not make sense, I have not seen that in my life at all, or that has not been my experience in what I have learned.” So if we do this without further developing what we just said we risk losing a connection or the point falling flat.
A key that I have learned is to go through my main and sub points and make sure everything I am saying will intellectually and logically connect with most of the audience. We cannot please everyone but we can make sure we are making clear and explainable points that take into account certain intellectual challenges.
Does it Emotionally Connect
Sometimes what does not connect with the audience is the emotional appeal you are making. The best principle for emotionally connecting is to be emotionally aware. This is difficult but it is work we must do.
Maybe someone cannot connect with your point because of something that has happened emotionally in such topics as death, divorce, or alcohol, the list goes on and on. With these subjects be prepared to do the extra work to show empathy and grace and not just callousness. That is just what someone might be missing and needing in their life.
Does it Connect Contextually and with Tradition
Sometimes we make a point or statement and it just is not going to communicate very well or the way we want it to because of the cultural context we are in and the traditions in this culture. By no means does this mean we do not preach against cultural or traditional points that are wrong or ineffective! Instead it just means we must take care to always plan for resistance to these things in our preaching. Watch the gray areas and approach them cautiously but with conviction.
Does it Connect Clearly With Scripture
Beyond connecting logically, emotionally, and contextually we most have to work hard to make sure we connect on Scriptural grounds. Your point might not fly because of someone else’s interpretation of Scripture, in hotly contested passages, make sure you address these facts.
Preparing for resistance to your sermon is vital in your preparation. It will help you connect as well as help you avoid 20 minute rebuttals and 2,000 word email essays (no you will never be able to completely eliminate these things.) How do you prepare for resistance to your sermon? Let us know in the comments!