Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Preaching Tip #1

You know, so many times I begin sentences by saying, "You know so many times...".

I'm not sure when I started doing that, or even why.  But let me tell ya - it is a tough habit to break.  It just feels so good coming out of my mouth.  I even love typing it.  "You know so many times..."

It is an effective verbal defensive move.  Especially when preaching.  I'll bet I begin close to 40% of my sermons with the words, "You know so many times..."  It is one of the biggest tools in the "Preachers Toolbox" that I know of.  Well, that and, "A story is told..."  and  "We have a man who..."

You see, in preaching (as in life) it is important to find what I like to call "time killers" or "preacher pull-overs " or "loop-d-loos",  that allow you to begin preaching your sermon without actually getting IN to your sermon and blowin; your wad too early.  You know so many times (I just did it again) I've BEGUN a sermon while still figureing out what that semon was gonna be about!  Wonderful.

"You know so many times" is especially effective when you've got a 30 minute sermon slot to fill,  but only brought a 5 minute camp devotional talk in your Bible. Normally this would be a disaster.  You'd have to have a 25 minute Q and A portion that will kill you and your audience. 

But with "you know many times", you can easily kill off 15 minutes just by messing with this one phrase.  Then you preach the 5 minute devo talk, hold out the invitation for 5 minutes or so, and then have a 5 minute Q and A and you're done!

And there's more you can do than just SAY the phrase.

For example, I can stretch this wonderful phrase out like this: "You know (long pause) so many times (another long pause) ...we...(pause)..."

This keeps everyone on the edge of their seat, waiting to see what you'll say next.  Of course there is also a portion of the audience that will be lulled to sleep.  Either way - IT'S WORKING!

Sometimes DURING that first pause I pretend I thought of something funny and lost my place.  Like:

"You know (long pause...shake head laugh)...oh man...I just thought of something REALLY funny.  (laugh again)  Oh mercy.  (laugh again, audience laughs nervously)...Oh man!  (huge laugh, fall on the ground, audience laughing big though confused).  Where was I?  (Big applause from audience, followed by smaller laugh, trying to calm down) Anyhow.  You know (pause) so many times...(pause) we..."

Guess what?  You just killed 7 minutes!  All with one phrase!   Other times, in the middle of this phrase,  I pretend to see somebody I know in the audience. 

"You know, so many times we...hold that Fred Wally in the audience?!  (audience looks around) Well when did you walk in, Fred? (audience chuckles).  I can't believe they LET YOU in here!  (Big laugh from the audience) Sorry, everybody.  I haven't seen Fred in 20 years!  (polite applause) He's a great man.  He once sewed my leg up in Korea and now gives blood to Bible Smugglers and baby seals!  (bigger audience applause).  Stand up Fred, and let 'em see ya!  (Huge applauseThen Fred says something that no one can hear.  You  fall on the floor laughin'.  Audience has no idea what you're laughing about or what Fred said, but they crack up anyway, apparently having inserted their own joke, and applaud louder than ever.).  Anyhow, where was I...

You don't even HAVE to preach now if you don't want to.  The audience would rather talk to Fred anyway.  In the meantime, you've killed 23 minutes!  Technically you can wing it from here and save the other stuff for next Sunday.

I hope you have found this valuable Preaching Tip a help and a blessing to you today.  I know I did. 

As together we stand and sing.



  1. I wish the Greek church had a guy like you when I was growing up!!

  2. Christine, I couldn't agree more.

    The Greek church needs a guy like me. Heck, they ALL do.

    The Greek word for a guy like me is "Brotherpreach-e-odia" which literally means..."Guy who everybody needs."

    So I guess you were right. Thanks for the comment. I'm making a quilt.


  3. I like that I can change my vote after I see the results (which I of course took advantage of - not wanting to stand out and remove all doubt) Wish I had that option back in '72 after I voted for McGovern.

  4. It was a fabulous tip, M. Thanks for noticing.

    As to the changing of votes scandal - I'm glad I'm not the only one.