In addition to what you say, consider how you say it. You can hang arguments in your congregation’s minds by injecting alliterations or using vivid imagery. Put handles on the words so they can quickly grab and carry them. Spend extra time measuring your argument every week, remembering why you’re making it (to persuade), consider its truthfulness, and work to make it brief, simple, and sticky. You won’t regret this intentional measuring.
Measure twice and cut once. For generations, the veteran builder has spoken these words over a sawhorse to their younger apprentice. Because as the saying goes, when you spend extra time being precise on your measurement, you won’t waste time (and wood) by repeating it over again. What’s true in the wood shop is also true in the study. The preacher must measure twice and cut once when preparing to make an argument.
First Measurement: Your Argument
Before getting into some of the measurement tips, it’s important to have a clear objective for the argument. Why are you preaching? I think a lot of preachers give little thought to this. It’s easily assumed. We want to glorify God, equip the saints, and see the lost saved. But how? And what does an argument have to do with this?
I think many default to informing rather than persuading. There’s a massive difference. Informing is telling people certain information and truths and persuading them that these truths matter to them–right now! I think preaching is not less than informing, but it’s much more. It aims to reach in through the mind to grip the heart with truth. Think of the Apostle Paul’s example in the book of Acts. It’s one of the primary words Luke uses to capture what Paul was doing (Acts 17:4; 18:4, 13; 19:8, 26; 26:28). He aimed to persuade via the vehicle of an argument of the truth. Many preachers would find their pulpit ministries greatly enhanced if they adopted the subtle shift from mere (faithful) information to a zealous priority of persuasion.
Acknowledging that God is sovereign and that he works through means, how can we work to make our sermons more persuasive?
Make sure they’re true: I have no concern with aiding those who are spouting falsehoods about God or his Word. But, for this point, make sure what you are standing up to say God has said, he really has said. Make sure it’s right. And, while we’re here, make sure you believe it.