Seven Preacher Maximums

Look into the heart of every preacher and you will find seven preacher maximums that effectively characterize their proclamations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Without the presence in balance of these maximums effective communication will not be achieved.

Maximum One

That every sermon will flow from a text of Scripture and should be capable of achieving a predetermined purpose in the lives of the hearers. In other words, the biblical impact on the life of a given hearer should be to move that person from point A to point B toward a new person in Jesus Christ.

Maximum Two

That this biblical utterance should address or speak to very real contemporary needs of the audience or congregation.

Every preacher needs to be especially careful to sort out between topics chosen for their use as vehicles of preacher expertise, as opposed to their helpfulness to the spiritual maturity of the hearer.

Maximum Three

That every sermon should be predominantly positive as opposed to negatively critical in its thrusts.

Indeed, it is probable that there should never be more than one third of the sermon used for negative purposes.

It may be necessary, at times, to describe the anatomy of the sin as it were.

However, this must never start nor finish the sermon, which means that whatever small percentage of negativity is included in the body of the sermon should be, as it were, in the middle between a positive opening and a positive conclusion and celebration.

Maximum Four

That every sermon is to speak to the whole person, to the intellect and emotion, or better, intellect, intuition, and emotion.

The design of the sermon then becomes the design of an experience of truth, as opposed to a basically rational argument for truth.

It is understood that the best way to engage, in art, as opposed to argument, is to engage in storytelling (narration), metaphors, and picture painting.

The goal in each case is so to utilize concrete details with which the hearer is familiar that the hearer is drawn into this vicarious experience.

The purpose is simply that when the person has engaged in the experience the person learns the lesson taught by the original persons in the experience.

The classic example, of course, is listening to the story of the prodigal son, and learning in twenty-five minutes what the son may have taken five years or more to learn.

Maximum Five

That in fact, the sermon must speak to all sectors of consciousness does not relieve the preacher of the absolute necessity to be reasonable and coherent.

The flow of the sermon, with all of its ramifications, must have an identifiable continuity capable of being picked up on a single hearing by the ear.

Preachers who write manuscripts must be especially careful to avoid writing complicated things which the human ear cannot pick up in one hearing.

This automatically suggests that every sermon should follow and outline.

This outline becomes the basic means of checking coherence and of guaranteeing that the hearer will be able to follow easily as the sermon is produced orally.

Maximum Six

That the sermon must also be understood in addition to rational coherence, the sermon must also have emotional coherence.

There is a sense in which the human psyche or spirit requires that the experience go up to ultimate climax and celebration.

If there is erratic movement up and down, the emotional impact becomes blurred and the lesson is lost, often along with the attention loss of the hearer.

This need for progression in ever more intense emotional impact can be referred to as proper “timing.”

Maximum Seven

That the sermon must be understood and proclaimed to any people couched in the language and culture of the people.

The imagery and patterns of thought must match the style of the listening audience.

This is what Paul referred to when he said I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.

There is one further possibility here, in the fact that Paul’s statement suggests a kind of cultural relating to people and in effect taking on their identity.

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