What Country Music Teaches Me About Preaching

Have you ever noticed that you can see a good country music song while you are hearing it?

I’m only an occasional fan of that genre, but I continue to be impressed by the word pictures most country songs make. Whether it is Carrie Underwood’s vivid description of ruining her boyfriend’s car in Before He Cheats or the masterful turns of phrase in Kenny Chesney’s There Goes My Life, country songs are the most visual of any popular music.

Perhaps the most representative is Brooks & Dunn’s Red Dirt Road:

“Red Dirt Road”

I was raised off of old Route 3
Out past where the blacktop ends
We’d walked to church on Sunday morning
Race barefoot back to the Johnson’s fence
That’s where I first saw Mary
On that roadside pickin’ blackberries
That summer I turned a corner in my soul
Down that red dirt road

It’s where I drank my first beer
It’s where I found Jesus
Where I wrecked my first car
I tore it all to pieces
I learned the path to heaven is full of sinners and believers
Learned that happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers
I’ve learned I’ve come to know
There’s life at both ends
Of that red dirt road

Her daddy didn’t like me much
With my shackled up GTO
I’d sneak out in the middle of the night
Throw rocks at her bedroom window
We’d turn out the headlights
Drive by the moonlight
Talk about what the future might hold
Down a red dirt road

I went out into the world, and I came back in
I lost Mary, oh I got her back again
And driving home tonight feels like I’ve found a long lost friend

Notice all the nouns? The red dirt road itself, the church, the blackberries, the young girl Mary, the beer, the Pontiac GTO. You don’t just hear the song; you see it as well.

So what does that have to do with preaching? Everything.

A good sermon, I believe, is not something people merely hear. They see it. A good sermon is full of concrete language, vivid descriptions, and word pictures that involve multiple senses. Such messages engage people’s minds and involve practical, daily application.

So preachers: prepare and deliver sermons the people in the church can see.

And worshippers: watch for the message your pastor delivers this Sunday.

Just like country music.