Practical Help on Taking Your Messages from Good to Great with Pete Briscoe

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking today with Pete Briscoe, who was the senior pastor at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas for almost thirty years and preached through the Telling the Truth ministry, reaching an audience of more than 1.2 million people every week.

Currently Pete is a coach for church and business leaders and is sharing with us today from his wealth of preaching experience about common mistakes preachers make and how to fix them.

  • Teaching is a critical part of what we do. // Those thirty minutes or so we have each week allow us to speak into the hearts of our people whether we’re leading them, casting vision, encouraging them, challenging them, and so on. Preaching is one of the ways that God speaks to His people, and it’s the most important time of the week for the body of Christ.
  • Create tension early. // One of the things that’s crucial to making a gripping sermon is creating tension early on in the message that is then released by the biblical text. It’s not easy to do creatively and can feel formulaic. Plus it requires a lot of energy and thought-process, such as reading first person research and studies rather than just typical third person articles.
  • Practice your sermons out loud. // Pastors who have been preaching for a long time can be tempted to skip practicing their sermons out loud beforehand, but it’s a very useful discipline. It can help you see what in the message needs to be fixed before you speak in front of the congregation.
  • Don’t break the spell. // You have to work at “casting the spell” in your messages, getting people to a place where they are so focused on what you are saying that they forget about everything else that’s happening and they just want to sit and listen. A lot of times we break the spell by reminding people that they’re listening to a sermon. Instead we want people to soak in the words and really think about the scriptures being shared.
  • Don’t let things slip in. // It’s so much easier to cast the spell at the beginning of the message rather than in the middle of it, and there are many things which we try to sneak into our sermons that can break the spell. Announcements about events within the church, or slipping in cute stories about our family that don’t really fit the message are examples of things that can break the spell. Sometimes we even break the spell with the Gospel by shoe-horning it into the sermon in a formulaic way every week.
  • Look to the Word for the application. // Most communicators are comfortable digging into the text as they preach, but helping people apply God’s word can be a challenge. People don’t want someone telling them what to do, and we can be tempted to talk about the same applications each week. Pete tells us to look to the text for the specific application, rather than creating a new one.
  • Engage them on one point. // The goal of application is to drive home the point of your sermon for the next week. Point people to the application in the scripture and give them one thing to focus on. If you can engage your congregation to do something, with the express purpose of driving home the point of your message so it sticks, then the application has been successful.
  • Training while on the job. // A lot of pastors approach Pete for 1-on-1 coaching, but he recognizes he can’t do that for everyone. So Pete’s put together an online course to make his learnings more accessible. The course, 9 Common Mistakes Preachers Make …and How to Fix Them, provides training to improve your preaching while you’re still fulfilling your other job responsibilities.

Explore Pete Briscoe’s pastoral training course at You can also learn more about what Pete is up to at

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.