Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Although studies continually show that Americans consider themselves spiritual, church attendance has continued to decline. A common reason people give for not attending church is that the sermons are boring and irrelevant. Far too few pastors effectively communicate in a way unchurched people understand, relate to and connect with in their sermons. In order to address this problem we will propose seven traits that characterize preaching that effectively reaches unbelievers and leads them to lasting faith in Jesus Christ: I) biblical, Christ-centered content, 2) relevant to unbelieving listeners, preached with 3) persuasive appeal, using 4) engaging illustrations and 5) dynamic delivery, spoken by an 6) authentic preacher, who is 7) empowered by the Holy Spirit. In chapter 2, we present biblical materials that show Jesus, Peter and Paul used several of these techniques in their preaching. In chapter 3, we present materials from Christian History and Thought, specifically the results of a study of four of the greatest evangelistic preachers in church history, to show that the elements of effective preaching are timeless. In chapter 4, we present materials from current experts in preaching to unchurched postmoderns that show the principles of effective preaching remain the same. In chapter 5, we show how contemporary academic psychology's Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion would advocate the same seven characteristics for effective evangelistic preaching. In the conclusion, we present our solution: A listing and description of these timeless traits of effective evangelistic preaching with comments on how best to apply each in various contextual settings. Appendix A summarizes the findings of the authors consulted for chapter 4. Appendix B provides anecdotal evidence from a study of actual preachers-both evangelistically effective and ineffective-to illustrate how these principles work in actual church settings.
Ehler, Alan, "Preach to Reach: Seven Characteristics of Effective Evangelistic Preaching" (2007). Doctor of Ministry. 177.