One of the biggest challenges for pastors is preparing one sermon for a congregation that is extremely diverse in their knowledge and experience. It is impossible to design a message that will touch everyone where they are at. But it is important to have sense of where people are at, so that over the span of a year, appropriate messages are given to each segment.
Here are four things that are likely to be true in any given congregation. Pastors should keep these things in mind as they prepare their message.
- People are at different places in their faith walk. Some people will be devoted Christians active in ministry. Some will be Christians who have plateaued spiritually or are weak in their faith. There will be others who have never made a faith commitment.
- People are at different places in their Bible knowledge. There will be people who are very biblically literate and know all the stories. Others have some knowledge but would struggle to identify a story as being from the Old or the New Testaments. Others will have never cracked open a Bible and come as a blank slate.
- People are at different places in their life experience. Some people are joyful, content and living the dream. Others are having their life crumble around them, experiencing crisis upon crisis.
- People are at different places in terms of how God is working. Preachers only see the outside. But the Holy Spirit is working in different ways in different people. We can’t know what God is doing in their life.