You can have piles of facts and verses and information and fail to resonate in your preaching. Why? It’s not about the information itself, it is about the emotional impact of that information.
We preach as if humans are logical, rational people. But we aren’t. We are emotional people. Even our attempt at rational thinking is just our mind justifying our emotions.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon facts and scriptures altogether. Use them. Use scripture all over the place. Just accompany information with an emotional appeal.
There is a difference between being convinced with logic and believing with personal conviction. The people hearing your sermon may agree with the logic of your sermon but still not respond to the call. Have you ever said, “I hear what you’re saying, but…” You get the logic but are not convinced.
A person can understand the logic and maybe even agree with the logic. But if the emotions are not engaged, it will not be persuasive. Change will not happen.
Aristotle said that the man who is in command of persuasion must be able to “understand the emotions – that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited,” and that “persuasion may come through the hearer, when the speech stirs their emotions.”
The best way to engage the emotions is through story. We will look at that in a future post. But for now, look at your sermons and see what kind of emotional language you use. Use actions words. Think of words that create an image.
As you prepare your sermons ask yourself: What are the verbal images my sermon is creating? If nothing is there, rethink your language.