cracked Peyton Manning's hand signals. Manning showed Seattle's defense exactly what was coming before the ball was snapped.
What a relief. For a while, I feared aliens from outer space had kidnapped the Broncos and replaced them with Detoit Lions.
Reflecting on the debacle, I realized I've experienced something like that myself -- while preaching. Without prayerful reflection and careful consideration in the study, sermons easily become predictable.
Most preachers have favorite themes, phrases and delivery styles, which are unique strengths, but when overused, are overfamiliar. Overfamiliarity in preaching = boring.
This is especially true of "fill in the blank" sermons - -the ones accompanied by notetaking guides. A few preachers do this masterfully. Most don't. Far too often, a note taking guide just gives away your hand signals ahead of time. More often than not, when I've been given one of those little sheets, I've filled out at least 80% of the blanks while the preacher was making the first point.
If you are a fill in the blank preacher, please keep me on my toes by selecting words that aren't so obvious.
Every preacher should change it up. If you normally preach three points and a poem, do a narrative sermon instead. If your sermons are normally topical, try expository. If you are a manuscript preacher, go without notes. That will keep both you and your congregation on your toes.
Of course we need to be ourselves. Preaching is, after all, divine truth combined with human personality. But, that doesn't mean we should stay in our comfortable routine. If we're dishing up the same hash every Sunday, we come off like Charlie Brown's teacher, "Wah. . . waah. . . waah. . . wah. . . wah."
One of the best things our church did to keep things fresh was a move to team preaching. A variety of voices from the pulpit has a far wider and deeper impact than one preacher can make alone. Being willing to share the preaching load was not easy for me at first. I love to preach, and had been delivering 90% of the sermons at my church for over 20 years.
However, after a year of experiencing the new team approach, I wouldn't want it any other way. I get to hear great messages from others. I have more energy when I preach, and more time to prayerfully develop non-predictable sermons.