He possessed something special as a minister that made him so powerful. Yes, he knew the Word. His skill as a preacher was finely sharpened. You could feel his love for the people. But I sat there in that Indonesian church, listening and trying to analyze what it was that made him different.

After nearly an hour of listening, I realized what it was. I had taught the principle in my own leadership seminars, and now I recognized it in him.


There are four parts to effective messages:

  1. A knowledge of the subject you are preaching about.
  2. The freshness of the Spirit in your life.
  3. A vessel.
  4. Experiences from life.

As we examine these one by one, you’ll see how they fit together. The principle is illustrated in a drawing of a teapot.

The first part is the Word. An effective teacher must have some knowledge of the subject he is teaching. If he is to be really effective, he will spend more time studying and meditating than he will ministering.

That’s why you must spend time in personal study, devotions and meditation.  The effective church leader spends quality time studying the Bible. If he can get them, he reads books that give him insight into life as it was in Bible times. He also learns to apply the Bible’s message to life in practical ways.

Some of us were taught that to be really “anointed,” you shouldn’t use any notes when you teach, you shouldn’t write anything down while you study, nor should you use an outline to speak from. “Open your mouth and the Lord will fill it,” they said. However, if there is no life inside of us, no life will come out of our mouths. In our diagram, we would compare the tea with the Word. Tea must be made from tea leaves. Good ser­mons must be made from the Word of God. But the Word alone is not nearly enough to make a sermon worth listening to. Information alone, no matter how good that information is, will not bring life to people. “The letter kills, but the Spirit give life” (2 Cor 3:6).

The second ingredient in our diagram is water. Tea leaves alone are not enough. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day knew the Law, but their lives were dry and lifeless because they had no personal fellowship with the Author of the Word. They knew the Bible, but they did not have the second ingredient that is necessary in effective preaching. There was no freshness, so no one listened to what they had to say. Maybe you’ve heard someone minister who said the right things, but he was so dry you could hardly stay awake.

What is the second ingredient? It is the Spirit.

The Bible contains everything man needs to know to please God and live a happy life. The directions are old, but they can be applied to life today. The secret of freshness is simple: be fresh yourself. Paul the apostle says that we should “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18). That is not something that happens just a once in a lifetime. Instead, we should be before the Lord every day receiving from Him the freshness of Himself. The Spirit flows through our lives from God and out to others. One of the most effective tools of the enemy is to lock up the answers of the Bible in dry, religious terms. Preaching and teaching alone cannot change lives. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day tried to change people by telling them the Word. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Good doctrine will not deliver people. It takes the Word and the power of God to change lives. If you don’t have it in your life, you can’t make it work for others by just talking about it.