5 Things Robert Fergusson Taught Me About Engaging Preaching

6 August 2015

Jesus is our perfect example when it comes to preaching. He met people exactly where they were at; stepped into their lives and made connections that compelled people to want to listen. He related to people not by talking at crowds, but by talking to them.

One of the most common techniques that creates engaging preaching is storytelling. The Gospels are full of Jesus’ parables and that is only a snapshot of what he shared during his ministry.

But what stories would you expect Jesus to tell? Based on the fact that He was a carpenter (Mark 6:3) you’d assume that his topic selection would include his years of experience in the family business. However, we have not one recorded parable about carpentry in the Scriptures. Why is this?

The Bible recounts countless stories that Jesus spoke about vineyards, farms, shepherds, architects and even fishermen. Jesus knew about these areas of life because He chose to observe people and was aware of the world in which they lived.

Jesus was more interested in His audience than he was in Himself.

I was recently interviewing Robert Fergusson, our Teaching Pastor at Hillsong Church about how preachers can create a better connection with the congregation through their preaching. Here are the top 5 tips.

1. Be a committed observer.

Watch people carefully and listen to them carefully. Intentionally engage with people off the platform. This includes the times you run into them at the grocery store or at your children’s schools.

2. Ask people their stories.

Discover as much as you can about the people in your world. Ask a lot of questions and find out about their interests. You may not be interested in those same interests, but you have to be interested in those people.

3. Get outside your demographic.

You might have great insight into what’s going on in the world of the 40-somethings. But what about the people in their 20s, or in their 60s? What’s affecting their world? What issues are they facing daily? Ask.

4. Engage people through story telling.

The story will usually be better if it’s personal yet relatable. This is what Jesus did. Whilst sometimes the issues vary by demographic; the principles and heart matters tend to be similar.

Ask yourself, what’s the most engaging and relevant story to this people group?

5. Live it yourself

No matter how much preparation; ultimately the best way to connect with the people off platform is to live it. What does this mean?

Take advantage of the times that you are not preaching to engage with your church. Talk to the business owners, the parents, the students, the elderly and those in between. Make it your job to understand how the people in your church live their lives on Mondays – Saturdays, not just on Sunday.

Be close enough to look for the application. Be relatable, even if you’re just a carpenter.

Preaching requires connection. Don’t just preach a good structure, but preach like Jesus.

Joel A’Bell

This thought was originally shared at a Hillsong Leadership Network Google Hangout with some of our Hillsong Church teaching and preaching pastors.

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