Where I came from there was very little personal training of young ministers about how to approach preaching. We just learned as we went. We knew we did it wrong when we got corrected. I have been preaching 25 years now. I feel that I have learned a few things in those years that will be helpful to some younger preachers.
Every preacher needs a personal philosophy about preaching that guides his approach to the pulpit. He needs to pray it and speak it into his mind an spirit until it becomes part of who he is. I am still working on mine, but the Holy Spirit has help me greatly over the years.
In this particular blog, I am going to discuss my philosophy about audience response. So much of Apostolic Pentecostal preaching is about saint "gettin' with the preacher." And when they don't, many preachers leave the pulpit feeling like they have failed. Or worse yet, feeling like the congregation has failed them. We judge preaching too often by audience response. We say things like: He rocked the house tonight, He knocked it out of the park, or that was a conference message. I have never heard those comments about a sermon that did not solicit significant audience response. It may have been tears rather than triumph, but audience response non the less.
Young preachers hear and witness these kinds of ideas about preaching and formulate a philosophy about preaching. They seek to build sermons designed to solicit response. I have seen older preachers driven by this immature philosophy to the point that they rebuke congregations for not "getting with them."This is a sad and tragic way to approach preaching.
So what approach should a preacher take when the sermon or Bible class does not resonate with God's people? For me it is always self reflection based on principles from John 10. The sheep hear the shepherd's voice, and the porter opens the door of the sheepfold for the shepherd to come in and speak (John 10:1-3). As ministers, we are undershepherds/porters whose job it is with our preaching to make the voice of the Chief Shepherd heard. So when His sheep do not hear His voice when I preach I always ask myself, what did I do or say the prevented the sheep from hearing His voice? If I assume that the congregation to whom I am preaching are God's sheep, then if they don't hear the Shepherd's voice in my preaching then something is wrong.
My first response is to reflect on my prayer and preparation. I pray over my attitude and treatment of the flock. Most of the time the Holy Spirit will reveal a fleshly attitude or motive in me that was the problem. Preachers it is your sole responsibility to make the Shepherd's voice heard. The sheep will not recognize your voice, but they will recognize His voice.