I’ve been experimenting with a new sermon style. I recently read a book  by Andy Stanley, Communicating for a Change, arguing for a one point sermon. He argued that if we are about preaching for change, then we need to change the way we preach. Three points and an illustration or story may be entertaining or informative, but it can’t really create the change in people’s lives we desire. It’s too much for people to remember week to week. It might go into a notebook, but it won’t make it into their lives. Stanley argues that we make one point in the sermon and have everything (illustrations, stories, applications) all point to that one point for the sermon. If there is one point, it is much more likely that people will remember.

Part of my problem is that Stanley doesn’t go into a lot of detail on filling time. We’re preachers after all. We don’t have trouble filling time speaking. But I do. My sermons were never long to begin with. I think it was my business class training. We’d be given an assignment. Write a one page summary. The professor would hand it back. “Your manager doesn’t have time to read an entire page. Give me a paragraph.” We’d rewrite the assignment. “Your CEO doesn’t have time for a paragraph. This is still too long. Give it to me in one sentence.” We had it trained into us to avoid the superfluous. Be concise. I remember taking essay exams in graduate school. Professors were amazed that I could write an essay containing the information I had in such a short paragraph. Others would write ten pages or more and I’d write four. “I just can’t figure what you’ve left out.”

So, now, my sermons are even shorter than before. But I think Stanley is correct. I’ll continue to work on my form and learn to support my point better. Of course, most people don’t complain about too short a sermon.