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Avoid Content Overload

By Don Loftis | 03.02.16

Tyler Scarlett recalled the first sermon that he ever preached.  He was 16 and planned on speaking for about 20 minutes, but he ended up preaching for almost an hour.  He never forgot one elderly gentlemen who gave him a hug after the service and made this comment: “Son, I liked your sermon, but I felt like I was trying to drink out of a fire hydrant.”

As a preacher, I certainly need to hear that observation.  After spending hours in reading and researching a passage or topic, I have a lot of information that I want to share, but I need to recall  that most of what I say will be new to my audience.  A sermon that has too much content can resemble highly condensed soup — nutritious but not very tasty.  Trying to squeeze in a fourth point by speaking faster may destroy all comprehension.


This is an important principle for parents to recall as well.  Children have intellectual and emotional limits that must not be exceeded.  Lectures that are too long, too detailed, or too frequent run the risk of creating a communication gap.  Remember, a car engine needs oil to run smoothly, but it cannot be poured into the crankcase faster than the entry hole allows.


Whether in classes, from the pulpit, or across the kitchen table, let’s be sure that we take full advantage of our opportunities to teach.  Priority needs to be given to biblical accuracy, but attention needs to be given to style, timing, and patience.  Even on a good day, it really is hard to drink out of a fire hydrant.



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