Content or Delivery: Which is more Important in Preaching?

The divine task of preaching will always involve the elements of content and delivery. Content is simply the message of the sermon, and delivery is the means wherein the message is seen and heard by the listeners. Complementing each other, these two go side by side and could never be separated from each other. Of these two, which is more important?

An efficient sermon will always have something to say, as Haddon Robinson calls it, ‘a big idea.’ A sermon that has several little ideas without one big idea will be a confusing one, and nothing would likely remain in the minds of the listeners. An ideal sermon will always have a central idea, or a big idea, supported by several little ideas. Without a big idea, there is no real message, it could hardly be called a sermon, and preaching becomes futile or mute. Thus, a clear message is a principal element in the holy task of preaching; the content is indispensable in preaching.

The same could be said for the delivery of the message. A good content will come almost void to the hearers if the delivery is lifeless. The delivery plays an important role in capturing the interest of the listeners, emphasizing ideas, and ultimately in affecting positive influence in the lives of the listeners.

It is not easy to put some clear distinctions; are we talking about the technical or mechanical aspects of preaching, or the spiritual aspects as well? Frankly, both the mechanical and the spiritual. Both the preparation of a good content and the efficient delivery of the sermon involves both the mechanical and spiritual.

To think and use your pen and paper are mechanical, yet the means and the grace to do it is spiritual, so the making of a good content covers both the mechanical and the spiritual. To say that it is purely mechanical reflects a boastful heart, one that is inclined not to acknowledge the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit to write a good sermon. Proper interpretation of the Biblical text, by the way, demands the illumination of the Holy Spirit, which is spiritual. The methodologies of hermeneutics (i.e., the science and art of interpreting the Bible) provide help in interpreting the Holy Scriptures, yet the Holy Spirit illumines it in a deeper way in our minds and hearts.

The same goes with the delivery of the sermon. Great oratory skills will fall short if devoid of God’s power thru the work of His Spirit. Is good delivery to be measured alone by the good utilization of voice, gestures, body movements, eye contact and facial expressions? Truly they serve their purpose and could for some measure touch the intellect and the emotions, but a good delivery has the power to influence the mind and heart that can only be achieved by the power of the Holy Spirit. How could this be assessed? Not just by the tears and different emotions seen from the listeners, but more so, by the inward change of the hearts, which is of course only possible to assess outside the church building, in real life. A powerful delivery of the sermon will and always will include the unction or the anointing of the Holy Spirit; mere oratory skills will never achieve the glory preaching deserves, for preaching is more than just public speaking.

1 Thessalonians 1:5
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Now before we answer the question which is more important between content and delivery, let us make first some clarifications.

The first clarification is that we do not try here to belittle any of the two, or to promote any of them at the expense of the other, or to put one against the other. Rather, what we are trying to do here is to encourage preachers to do their best in improving both their content and delivery in preaching. Today’s world is much more broken and darker than before, and preaching will always be one of God’s tools to bring lost souls to His Kingdom and to strengthen His Church.

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 16:25
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began

The second clarification is that in the writing of the content and in the act of delivery, we are not only talking about the physical, mental, and mechanical actions in these two endeavors. Rather, the spiritual aspects (i.e., the help of the Holy Spirit in illuminating His Word and the anointing during the delivery of the preaching that gives its power) are also considered. Explanation about the certain distinctions and the blending of the mechanical and spiritual aspects has been given earlier.

Now let us draw the conclusion and the answer to our question. At first thought I am inclined to say that content is more important for two reasons. First, because what value is there in delivery if the content is wrong? And second, content is more important because I know of some preachers whose delivery is flat and monotonous (strictly in the technical sense, not spiritually) like Jonathan Edwards’, yet the preaching is so powerful because of its great content. Yet, I know, that Edwards’ preaching though flat in delivery is helped by the Holy Spirit to make it powerful. So these two reasons have in some value tend to bring more weight towards content than delivery.

Yet still I will say that these two, content and delivery, are equally important in both the mechanical and spiritual aspects of preaching. These two complement each other: great content demands and creates powerful delivery, and efficient delivery illumines the content to its utmost clarity, truthfulness, accuracy, and applicability in everyday life. These two both uphold the preacher during the task of preaching, partnered with the unction of the Holy Spirit. These two should be fully understood and acknowledged by every preacher, and every effort should be utilized to improve in both areas. Hence, let us do our best to write an accurate and relevant sermon, and deliver it with our everything and make room for the Holy Spirit to do His supernatural work of affecting positive change in the lives of the hearers.


Prayer Fellowship at Home

It’s been a long time since we had our last Overnight Prayer Meeting at home. Though tonight’s Prayer Meeting was much shorter, and not an overnight, God moved my family to tears – Mylene and Ate Leah. Mylene said she found her second family in us, and my sister received her second life from God.

Also, Ptr Paolo Figueroa, our new friend in the ministry and her girlfriend were with us.

My father, mother, sister and Mylene gave their heartfelt testimonies.

It was a small Fellowship and we enjoyed each other’s presence.

It was presided by Ptr Ian. He also gave the message from Acts 20:17-38 with three pointers for us, Christians:

1) Reliance on the Holy Spirit
2) The need to work for sustaining the ministry
3) The loving relationship with the brethren that includes correction

God Works at OMNHS

Last Monday, we anointed the classroom where we conduct our Bible Study with prayer and oil, as commanded by the Lord thru Ann Jelica, an officer of the BKD, the Campus Ministry in OMNHS.

Praise God, the day after, the class was more peaceful and God’s presence was there all around. Praise God for His works. We know that no matter how hard the circumstances are, God is working with us in the Campus Ministry.

Ate Merlyn’s Birthday

We celebrated Ate Merlyn’s 40th Birthday at the Provincial Hospital. I was quite glad to notice the fellowship that these brothers and sisters are enjoying. They are TB patients, yet they are happy people seeking God.

Each one present gave his message, and Ate Merlyn cried in tears. Then we prayed for her.

We talked about Philippians 4:4-9.

How to be Happy in God.

Philippians 4:4-9

1) Be happy and free in Christ, not caged by outward circumstances (4)
2) ‎Wait eagerly for the Lord (5)
3) ‎Ask in prayer with thanksgiving (6)
4) ‎Meditate on holy things (8)
5) ‎Practice what you were thought (9)

Preaching as a Divine Task and its Power

Preaching is more than public speaking. It is certainly greater than the shouting of words and ideas to convince its listeners. It is certainly even more than an activity, or task, that is practiced weekly among churches. Preaching is, essentially, along with the reading of the Word, the main method chosen by God to reveal Himself to man. It is by the preaching of the Word that the lost is saved and the Church is strengthened. Preaching is a divine task, and its power is divine in nature.

Romans 10:13-14 (KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

1 Corinthians 1:17-19 (KJV) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

The spirituality of preaching is something that is not fully acknowledged by the Church today, even among its preachers. Too often we tend to look at it only as a technical task. Of course we pray for it, and ask the prayers of others, but deep within our hearts we don’t fully acknowledge its spirituality and the source of its power. I have written a separate article about its importance, “The Primacy of Preaching”. Also, in an another article, “Preaching as Public Speaking”, preaching as a form of public speaking is discussed, focusing on its technical aspects. In this article however we will deal about its spirituality and power.

Every true preaching affects the heart and mind of its listeners, driving them towards positive change, which is reflected thru repentance and genuine sanctification. That is why it is puzzling today, why many preachers today do not positively affect their listeners; after hours and minutes of preaching, there is not a single sorrow for sins felt, nor a determination to do what is right. Alas, preaching has become a scholarly class, an informational yet dry discourse of Biblical truth. Where is the power in today’s preaching? The absence of its power can immediately be attributed by the preacher’s negligence of its spiritually.

Before we discuss the reasons for the lack of power in today’s preaching, let us first lay down some clarifications to avoid confusions later.

Firstly, the Word of God in itself is alive and powerful, and its power never at any time diminish or increase, rather it is constant in its purity and power, and shall accomplish the holy and immutable precepts of God.

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Isaiah 55:11 (KJV) So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Throughout this writing we will talk about certain times why preaching sometimes lacks power. This however, does not in any mean try to say that there are times when the Word of God itself lacks the power and authority to deliver what God intends to accomplish, for the Word’s power is tied directly to the very personhood and character of God, which is of course immutable so is His Word and its accompanying power. Rather, there are certain factors that may sometimes hinder or stop the flow of power of God’s Holy and authoritative Word.

Secondly, being called to preach is surely one of the noblest callings in God’s economy and kingdom. Though this writing will deal in some parts with the weaknesses and failures of today’s preachers which often contribute to the lack of power in today’s preaching, still, we go with the Scriptures that highly esteem the call of preaching. We never intend to belittle preachers and their preaching but rather try to expose their weaknesses which are mostly spiritual in nature in an effort to strengthen both the preacher and his preaching.

Isaiah 52:7 (KJV) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Now that we have laid down our clarifications, we are ready to talk about the reasons for today’s lack of power in preaching. These reasons revolve around two distinct yet complementary areas, namely the preacher himself and the practice of preaching.

The preacher could never be separated from his task of preaching. If we want to know why there is the presence or lack of power preaching, it will always be good to look unto the preacher himself. There are some reasons why the preacher could be devoid of the power in his preaching.

Firstly, a preacher will lack the power in his preaching if he lives in sin. This could not be overlooked. We all know as Christians that prevailing sins in our life will cut us off from the eternal supply of power from the Holy Spirit that is available to us in Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 59:1-3 (KJV) Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

John 15:4-5 (KJV) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

In this regard we have to clarify two things. The first one is that there is a big difference between living in sin and sinning everyday. All believers, preachers or not will surely sin everyday; that is something painful that we need to face everyday, and only in heaven in our second life will sin be completely removed (1 John 1:8-10). However, living in sin means dwelling in the same sins in the sense of having pleasure in them – and this is very dangerous and destructive, yet present in the Church not only in the life of some preachers. This does not only cut off the preacher from God’s power in his preaching, but worse, his life becomes a stumbling block to many.

The second clarification is that sometimes, though rarely, in God’s grace and mysterious ways, He will bless the preaching of those preachers who live in sin. This is of course not because of any merit in the life of the unrepentant preacher (even righteous preachers do not deserve this blessing for we are all unworthy), but because God desires to advance His Kingdom through the act of preaching. This is evident in the ministry of the Apostle Paul when he showed gratefulness that the Gospel is preached even by those who had wrong motives (Philippians 1:18).

Secondly, a preacher will lack the power in his preaching if he lives a weak prayer life. The important role that prayer plays in the holy business of preaching could not be overstated; God’s anointing is not just a matter of our position in Christ, it is also surely brought out in power by continuous and heartfelt prayers. Without our fervent prayers, our preaching will be devoid of power. Since preaching is more of a divine task and calling rather than a mere mechanical speech, we need prayer to supply its power, and there is no other way. No matter how good the peacher is in terms of oratory skills, there will be no divine fruits in his preaching if he doesn’t know how to kneel down in humble and dependent prayer before God.

Thirdly, a preacher will lack the power in his preaching if he does not care to apply his preaching in his own life. The old advice is well said, “Walk your talk.” A preacher loses his sense of authority in preaching if the people around him do not see him live it. The Pharisees and scribes in Jesus’ day lacked authority in their teaching and that is because they do not live their own message (Matthew 7:29; 23:2-4).

To summarize, Robert McCheyne has said, “A holy minister is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.” Avoiding sin, having a strong prayer life, and living out your preaching will all lead to a holy life, certainly making you a powerful instrument of God.

I could stop right here but there’s one more concern that somehow exerts an influence on the power of preaching, though maybe not as much as the preacher himself. This one talks about the practice of preaching.

Firstly, preaching will lack in power if the preacher does not study his Bible enough. The noble task of preaching demands a deeper study of the Bible than the regular devotions, journaling, or almost any other Bible-related tasks. There is a saying that in order to fully understand a Scripture text for a sermon, one has to read it at least forty times. The constant companion of a preacher are his different Bible translations, a Bible dictionary, a notebook and a pen or pencil. A good Study Bible also gives valuable help. If one does not study well his sermon, it will be reflected in a few minutes of his preaching – it will be a confusing message with no one big idea to talk about, or a message that does not speak clearly the message of the chosen text.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Secondly, preaching will lack in power if the preacher is not aware of his own methodology in preaching. As preachers we are not being legalistic nor mechanical but every preacher must be sure of his own style or methodology in his preaching. It is like a driver that knows well his car; he is the person that could drive it well. A preacher that has not yet mastered his way of preaching will result in a preacher that lacks confidence and authority in delivery. It needs to be said however, that ultimately, it is not really our methodology in preaching that gives the spiritual power of preaching, nor gives preaching its divinity. Rather, in the mystery of God, His Spirit anoints even our methodology to give it power in perfect harmony with the innate power of the Holy Word.

On the outside, preaching seems to be a mechanical task, an act of oratory or public speech. But what happens in the preacher and his listeners before and during and after the act of preaching is for the most part, divine and spiritual. Let us therefore pray earnestly always that God give us the power to affect souls and eternity thru our heartfelt and mind-invested preaching.

My 34th Birthday Speech

7 JANUARY 2018, 10:47 PM
On this day at last, I was able to tell it to my family. I formally announced that I could not be a professional teacher for I decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.

Instead I prayed that they allow me to pursue online teaching instead.

God help me.

Update: My father seemed happy and accepted it. Praise God!