In September 1928, Dr. Alexander Fleming at St. Mary’s Hospital in London found a nasty mold growing on his lab bench. The bench was covered with Penicillium notatum. Fleming discovered that the Penicillium mold stopped the growth of bacteria and fought off infectious diseases. He would later write, “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.” Of course, this new miracle drug couldn’t just stay in Fleming’s lab. It needed a delivery system. Someone had to get it from the laboratory into the hands of sick people. Delivery matters.

You know where this is going. Delivery matters for preaching, too—or at least it should. Unfortunately, as preaching professor Hershael York writes in this preaching guide

The same preachers who spend years in seminary or hours in the study often assume that their job is done once the sermon is prepared—God could have chosen any form of communication as the primary means of teaching the church and spreading the gospel, but he chose preaching, an oral means. Any preacher who is serious about the message must also be serious about the manner in which that message is preached.

Sermon delivery includes things like your volume, pitch, pace, tone, eye contact, posture, gestures, and your writing style. Does this really matter? In this preaching guide, communications expert J. Robert Parkinson argues that audiences will connect with a preacher who is purposeful in his or her delivery. In his words, delivery influences our credibility. The passion you convey also matters. Jeffrey Arthurs offers this memorable line from his article: “If you want your listeners to catch fire, you must catch fire yourself.” Drawing from the rich depths of African American preaching, Philip L. Pointer urges that “Celebration should be an emphasis for every preacher regardless of the culture or ethnicity of the preacher and the audience.” Haddon Robinson reminds us that words matter and therefore style matters. “We must use words,” he writes, “and the only question is whether we will use them poorly or well. If you’re willing to work at it, you can become more skillful with them than you are.”

I agree with preaching giant D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones about the ultimate goal in our delivery: “be natural; forget yourself; be so absorbed in…the glory and the greatness of the Truth that you are preaching…that you forget yourself completely.” That’s the goal. But on the path towards that goal, I’ll need some practical reminders about how to make my delivery help and not hinder getting the message into the hearts and lives of my people.