10 Keys to Preaching from Crawford Lorrits

Crawford Loritts, Senior Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA, conducted an incredible seminar on effective preaching and teaching.

Crawford’s thoughts were so insightful that our team wished to pass them along to you. One thing you will notice as you read Crawford’s words is his incredible use of language and desire to invest in the next generation of pastors and Christian leaders.

Here are 10 things I learned from Dr. Crawford on how to become a better preacher:

1. Your effectiveness as a preacher/teacher will explode from the holiness of your personal life.

Over time, hypocrisy always causes us to collapse. The greatest preachers of all-time were passionate about being Godly. You are the visible representation of the truth you are declaring…You don’t separate the gift from who you are. Holiness and godliness bring power to what you are doing. When you preach or teach you always reveal far more about yourself than you intend to. You are always auto-biographical. You can not separate intimacy with God with God’s voice through you. God’s messages are not necessarily initiated by a committee. Every time you open your Bible in front of people, you have an appointment with God and God has an appointment with people. The preaching and teaching moment is a celebration of the work and power of the Spirit of God. You will not preach any better than your personal growth. Godliness, not desire, is the prerequisite for God to do great things in human history. The biggest mistake most of us make is that we don’t quiet our souls before we speak.I need to know more than just what I am going to say. It has to coalesce in my soul. We don’t spend enough time soaking in the implications of what we’re saying. Prepare enough ahead of time so that you can soak.

2. Expect Transformation

Don’t ever stand in front of a group of people with a Bible in your hand and not expect change…That book you’re holding is THE…VERY…LIVING…WORD…OF…GOD. You must expect God is going to use you…expect lives will be changed. You will always have trends that break with transcendence. The human heart has a need to be affirmed, not directed. Therefore, good preaching must be directive. When you stand in front of people your primary motivation is not to do well…It is not to experience self-actualization. The only reason why you preach and teach is to be a vehicle for transformation…You’ve got to settle that piece. Every message in the Bible, there is a clear action statement or it is strongly implied. When you preach, people must do something or you haven’t preached. Preaching requires people to walk away from where they are and to where God wants them to be. God wants His Word to be believed and acted upon.

3. Commitment to truth will cost you.

You’re going to pay a price. Be fearless in your preaching. Not obnoxious. There is a difference between holy boldness and obnoxiousness. You can’t handle hot truth coolly. Don’t make apologies for being spiritual when you preach. Who are you trying to be? Jay Leno? Preaching is a very lonely calling because some people are not going to like what you say. People pleasing will kill your effectiveness as a preacher. Most with public ministries struggle with this. It will inject embalming fluid into your effectiveness…You will one day wake up feeling like you were afraid to tell the truth.

4. You are a Vessel.

On Sunday morning the spotlight is being put on Jesus and Truth is being made clear in their lives. You are not giving a speech. You are not giving a talk. You are a vessel that the Spirit of God is speaking through. You cannot separate the Word of God, the proclaimer, the Spirit of God, and audience. The preacher is like a great symphony conductor. To be effective, you must become the music you’re conducting. You are the seamless instrument between the music that is to be performed and the audience who will enjoy it. You’re not just delivering content but worshipping the God who gave it to you.

5. Organization is not an Enemy

Some of us are random and our messages sound like it. Some of us should not become victims to our emotions but to use them. Submit your emotions to the passage. Organization is the biggest problem with younger preachers because we view it as an enemy. Submit yourself to an outline to protect you from becoming random. The goal of preaching is for people to remember what you said and act on it. The goal is transformation and transference. The modeling of discipleship is what preaching is all about. If a person can not pick up their Bible and walk through your passage and remember what you said, you failed. Your outline serves the message. It is not the message. Don’t confuse rhetoric with the message.

6. Be Yourself

God speaks through who you are. Don’t try to change yourself. Don’t adopt someone else’s identity. Don’t be a C-minus replication of Tim Keller. Guard the deposit and stir up the gift. Look at what’s been given to you. You’ve got your own Ground Zero. Learn from others but preach like yourself. Do not have a favorite preacher that you listen to all the time. You will become a C-minus clone. Do not have two favorite preachers or you will get confused. Listen to about four or five that you rotate. Find your own voice and find your own rhythm.

7. Be a Learner

Some of the reasons messages are terrible is that we are not readers. We have to be learners. Too much preaching is emotive. You are missing people who are thinkers. You have to read and write. Write a page in your journal every day and you will be amazed at how it helps your preaching. It forces you to think organizationally.

8. Preaching is both a gift and a calling.

The gifts of the Bible are not gender specific…Positions are gender specific but not the gifting. Preaching is important because it is the God-ordained method. Preaching has fallen on hard times because is has to be transferable, accepted by the audience, and demands response. We are so concerned with how people respond that we have neutered the message…Stop trying to make it make sense. Your ministry is defined by proclamation of the Word of God, not strategy. Preaching and teaching does not mean everything in your ministry. But preaching and teaching starts all the fires in your ministry. Preaching does not depend on how you feel. You don’t preach because you want to do it. You have to do it. You’re compelled to do it. Preaching is a message from God for the people at a moment in history.

9. Be Faithful with your Flock

You should be just as fervent with 5 people as you are with 50,000. You learn to be faithful. God isn’t going to trust you with a platform if you can’t handle this. Those 5 people are valuable. For some people, fruitfulness for you will be multiplied in the next generation. The people are not an audience you deliver content to. You have to love the people you are speaking to and they need to feel the love coming through you.

10. The greatest thing you can do is bring people into the presence of God’s Word and get out-of-the-way.

As a preacher you must make a life-long commitment to two things: Diligent, serious study of the scriptures. Moment by moment dependence on the Holy Spirit.You don’t want to ever be in a situation where God takes His hand off of you. Effective ministry always advances from human weakness, not human strength. God uses us because we are inadequate. When you are used of God, it is the celebration of the supernatural. Not of your gifts. You must separate your giftedness from how you are used. The strength is not in the gift. The strength is in the Giver. Accept the compliments. Don’t be falsely humble. Say “Thank You”. There are times you don’t know when God is using you. You’re just preaching through a storm. There are times when you’re preaching in the Holy Spirit that you’re a spectator into what God is doing. The most important thing you can ever do in your life is to pray God’s will. What do You want to do in my life? Filling of the Spirit is normative – filling, walking, don’t quench, don’t grieve. Anointing is occasional. Empowering for a specific task. God will bless His Word but can also spank you.No one ever truly compartmentalizes. We manage certain things but we are holistic. God wants to use a transparent vessel. Barriers being bdown is a prerequisite for being filled with the Spirit. Don’t ask God to use you if you aren’t willing to run from sin.