Chapter 190

Holding Hearers Captive

Three things that make it hard for listeners to escape a sermon.

What makes a sermon captivating — a message not just true and biblical, but one people must listen to?

Of course, if we address painfully felt needs, people listen, but what about all those important sermons that ground believers but do not address torment or ambition? How do we engage hearers no matter what the topic?

After listening to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sermons on tape for Preaching Today, I think I know. Hearing a sermon on tape is the acid test. On tape preachers lose the benefit of their winsome facial expressions, physical movement and gestures, the excitement of a crowd, and the presence of God in the meeting. Taped sermons strip preachers down to their voice and words. I have heard many sermons in person that I thought were world class, only to listen later on tape and be unmoved. So if you can captivate hearers on tape, then in person you can preach.

What grabs hearers even on tape is energy. I have observed three types of energy in sermons. If preachers have ...

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