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preaching article 9 Ways to Preach a Lousy Sermon

9 Ways to Preach a Lousy Sermon

based on 9 ratings
Ben Reed (website: BenReed.net)
Jul 31, 2012

Most people, when they preach, want to do well. Right?

Most people want others to experience God, encounter truth, and leave changed. Most people want the hard work they put into their sermons to have some sort of impact on the people listening.

Most people.

But not everyone. Some people aim to preach a lousy sermon. If you’d like to be one of those preachers, here’s your list.

9 keys to preaching a lousy sermon:

1. Spend very little time praying.

If your sermon is going to be lousy, this is where you’ve got to start. Don’t seek God in prayer. Don’t spend time begging Him to lead your thoughts and your words. Don’t plead with Him to soften hard hearts and open blind eyes.

2. Make your sermon purely about “teaching” propositional truths.

Go at it like your 7th grade history teacher…the one that you thought was boring. The one that you didn’t remember anything from her class. Just teach lofty moral platitudes and propositional truth statements that don’t drive any application home. That’ll get the job done.

3. Make your “study time” primarily about listening to other preachers talk about that passage.

Whatever you do, don’t read the Bible for yourself and study the Scriptures to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15). Live off others’ relationship with God, their experience with Him, and the knowledge and insight they’ve gained.

4. Don’t use the word “I” at all.

Don’t let things get too personal. Use ‘they’ and ‘them’ primarily. Slip in a few ‘you people’ and you’re good to go. Talk about “those people” a lot.

5. Heap burden after burden on top of your people.

Condemnation is the way to go. Try to make sure those condemning thoughts weave themselves throughout your sermon. Something like ‘The 5 ways you sinned this week and didn’t know it’ or ‘Why God hates you’ or ‘The 17 ways you’ll never measure up” or “Quit trying…you’re not doing any good anyway.”

6. Be sure to yell. Loudly. And obnoxiously.

Be careful with this one, though. People might think that, because you’re yelling, you’re saying something important. We all know you’re not. Just be careful.

7. Be completely absent and disengaged from people the entire week leading up to your sermon.

Because, if you’re not careful, your ministry of loving and serving people could bleed over into your sermon. The times you spend praying with and for people could have a drastic impact on the way you teach and preach. Be careful.

8. Don’t ask for anyone else’s input prior to preaching.

Study, prepare, write, and rehearse on your own. Don’t let anyone else take a look at your notes, your wording, or the direction you’re going to head on Sunday. Go it alone, my friend. Nobody else is as awesome as you are. The moment someone else tries to offer you a bit of advice, refer back to #6, above.

9. Don’t spend time wrestling through your own sins and weaknesses.

Just focus on other people. It’s much easier this way. Focusing on yourself gets all personal. And it means you have to be vulnerable. And…well, I’ll stop right there. I was just about to go into confession time. I can’t go there…and neither can you.

There you go. 9 steps to preaching a lousy sermon. Now get out there and start preaching!

Question: Ever seen/heard a pastor lead this way?

Ben Reed (website: BenReed.net)

Ben is the small groups pastor at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN. He blogs regularly at Life and Theology, wrestling through subjects such as small groups, parenting, leadership, social networking, and counseling…all from a distinctively biblical point of view.

Talk about it...

David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
interesting...
Brad Brought avatar
Brad Brought
0 days ago
Great reminders, thanks Pastor Reed!!
David Hallum avatar
David Hallum
0 days ago
I have seen several of these "How to Preach the Best/Worst Sermon Ever" articles. I have to take exception with this one, particularly #8. If you are NOT studying, preparing, writing and rehearsing on your own, then you are using someone else's work. What happened to the admonition of Jesus, "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:19) If we are not leaning strong on the everlasting arm, we ARE doomed to preach "lousy" sermons.
Rick Simpson avatar
Rick Simpson
0 days ago
Great job Ben! Thought provoking! Rick
Tim Spear avatar
Tim Spear
0 days ago
I did have a pastor that liked to practice #6. He usually would preach in a quiet barely audible monotone with his eyes fixed on his notes, but at random times during his sermon he would suddenly start yelling for no reason other than to wake us up I guess!
Derrick Tuper avatar
Derrick Tuper
0 days ago
Good points.
Beverly Birchfield avatar
Beverly Birchfield
0 days ago
Good ...too busy, too disengaged, too, too, too...a great reminder...when DO you yell?
Butch Payne avatar
Butch Payne
0 days ago
yikes, I feel totally condemned after all that! Someone told me once that we all have about seven minutes of total originality....the first seven minutes of our lives. after that , every time the kid in the crib next to you cries, you do as well. while I appreciate the thought behind your points, that we need to get our own message and preach it from our own experience and relationship with God, there's nothing at all wrong with borrowing or obtaining input from other's sermons. You said so yourself in point no. 8. Please don't discourage our brethren from learning from other preachers with great experienc, education and wisdom. Love and God bless. P.S Sorry, I couldn't be more positive in my remarks.
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
For a preaching article this article is POINTLESS!
Wendon Pettey avatar
Wendon Pettey
0 days ago
I agreed with about half of this article. I took exception to #6, as it immediately implies that if I yell, jump about, or in anyway act excited about the message I am preaching, then I am somehow overcompensating for a weak sermon point, a lack of study preparation, or anointing. Since when did such enthusiasm (so readily acceptable from fans of sporting events) become unacceptable from fans (especially preachers) of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Wendon Pettey, I understand where you're coming from, because I also tend to get quite animated when preaching. But I think it's clear from the context that what he is talking about is not being loud, per se, but rather being loud to compensate for not having anything significant to say. I think you and I can agree that that is wrong. As long as you're not doing that, you should be fine.
Jayson Pagan avatar
Jayson Pagan
0 days ago
I appreciate the article. Especially point 1.. A message not birthed by prayer, not bathed in prayer, and not penned without prayer, is more inspiration than annointing and there is a huge difference.
Jayson Pagan avatar
Jayson Pagan
0 days ago
I appreciate the article. Especially point 1.. A message not birthed by prayer, not bathed in prayer, and not penned without prayer, is more inspiration than annointing and there is a huge difference.
Jayson Pagan avatar
Jayson Pagan
0 days ago
I appreciate the article. Especially point 1.. A message not birthed by prayer, not bathed in prayer, and not penned without prayer, is more inspiration than annointing and there is a huge difference.
Charles Wallis avatar
Charles Wallis
0 days ago
You make several good "lofty moral platitudes and propositional truth statements" (haha) and I especially agree with 4 - we should try to use the word "we" more than you, them, those people, or even I. We're all in this together. The other issue is we need to be careful with sarcasm as this article demonstrates and so does my first point here (sarcasm can be a substitute for weak vocabulary much as cussing is - but even Jesus used it occasionally).
David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
I weighed in with "interesting..." earlier because, frankly, there's no scripture support for anything the man says. It's all subjective opinion. I take it back. He does cite 2 Timothy 2:15, but outside of that the rest is opinion, personal opinion, and for every "personal opinion" I've heard that says "preach this way" there are 20 who say "preach that way". When I preach loud they claim "he preaches too loud". When softer, "he puts me to sleep". When 15-20 minutes "he has no content". When 30-45 minutes, "he's too long winded". When I stand behind the pulpit "he's stands there anchored to the stage", but when I move "he looks like a yo yo moving to and fro". When we never joke "he has no humor" but tell a joke "he thinks he's a comedian". This hyper-critical small groups pastor (Sunday School teacher) exemplifies all the attackers I have had in every posting the Lord has ever placed me. The article is good as all my critics are good because it leads me to look unto Jesus and not unto myself or another for affirmation, for Jesus in His ministry taught truths no one understood, heaped burdens on the people (count the cost- Luke 14:28- don't be a Pharisee - Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:11), spoke loudly and some would say obnoxiously to the self righteous (Woe unto you - Matthew 23:13, 27), disengaged Himself from the people prior to preaching (by praying in the mountain - Matthew 14:23 - or waiting till a friend to die - John 11). He never asked anyone else for input on His preaching, though He evaluated what they heard (who do YOU say I am - Mark 8:29). To the idiot who replies, as they always do, "but you're not Jesus" I reply "but I am predestined to be conformed to the image of His dear Son" (Romans 8:29), so therefore my standard - the one I shoot for - is to be like Jesus, not like you. Each pastor is unique, called of God. One to be Apollos, another Paul. One Adrian Rogers, another David Buffaloe. Follow God, His Word and His Spirit, and be who God made you to be regardless as to what the critics may say.
David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
By the way, hit post only once or you get this
David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
By the way, hit post only once or you get this
Rev. Robert Chastain avatar
Rev. Robert Chastain
0 days ago
I had never posted a comment before this one tonight. However, I tend to agree with Pastor Buffaloe. I have endured and still enduring the same burdensome critics that Pastor Buffaloe mentioned.
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
Amen David!

So, what did you think?


Thank you.