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preaching article 4 Problems with Passionate Preaching

4 Problems with Passionate Preaching

based on 18 ratings
Oct 17, 2011

Preaching with a contagious passion for God, His Word, the gospel, and the people is a good thing. But we always need to be careful not to let our passion slip into offensive or off-putting communication styles.

Passion that becomes aggressive can offend. 

We must always be aware of how we are coming across when we preach. What might feel like a passion for the truth on our part can easily become unnecessarily offensive to the listeners. Every word and sentence counts, so be careful not to make a carefree assertion that might unnecessarily offend sensitive listeners. Listeners are not always the best at hearing statements in context. Hearers of “quotes” from Sunday’s sermon never really hear those quotes in context.

Passion that becomes “shouty” can be bothersome. 

It's so tempting for some personalities to convey their enthusiasm by shouting. It feels powerful and full of conviction at the time, and you can almost guarantee some misleading and positive feedback from some insecure folks who feel they need to say something nice to you afterwards. Being known as a shouting preacher won’t help you on several levels.

Passion that becomes distracted can be hard to follow.

Sometimes our passion for something leads us off on a wild goose chase of anecdotes and illustrations or a wild safari ride through the canon of Scripture. Let your passion drive your main idea home, not drive your listeners to distraction because they can’t follow you in your distraction.

Passion that becomes too intense can drain.

Even if we don’t shout, a certain level of intensity, if maintained consistently, will drain an audience of energy and focus. Give them a break, a chance to breathe, a chance to recalibrate. Intensity turned up a notch or two and left there can become simply too much to take. It's not worth it—better that they hear what you’re saying.



Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

Talk about it...

James Walker avatar
James Walker
0 days ago
This article disturbs me on several levels. My perception is that there is too little differentiating between "habitual" demonstrative presentation versus Holy Spirit inspired passion. The article lumps it all together. So much preaching today is like having a chat with the congregation. People who have become use to the "lets have a chat" preaching style, would probably be taken back with someone whose senses are enveloped in the power of the text. I'd like to think there is room for both in the context of a single sermon presentation. The fire of the "Prophet" and the gentle compassion of the "priest" should both have a hearing in the preached Word.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
James Walker, I don't think Mr. Mead is arguing against passionate preaching. I think what he's trying to do is simply point out possible abuses so that we can be aware of them and not let these abuses detract from the message that we are trying to communicate. The key, in my opinion, is to consider the wider context in which we are preaching. The "let's have a chat" preaching style does not necessarily lack passion. And having one's senses enveloped in the power of the text does not necessarily lead to "fiery" preaching. This is a common mistake--believing that a certain "style" of preaching (namely, mine) is more spiritual. Some people are simply more reserved than others, and their passion will not express themselves in the same way. Likewise, different congregations will have different levels of tolerance towards "passion" than others. Finally, there's also the tone of the specific text we are preaching on. A sermon on Galatians would probably sound harsher than one on Psalm 23! All of these different elements must be taken into consideration.
Charles Reed avatar
Charles Reed
0 days ago
Yesterday, our pastor brought a truly good message. One that addressed current issues regarding sharing the Gospel. At the end he shouted at the top of his voice, "NOW DO IT!" To be perfectly honest, he startled me since he was already on a sound system and then he shouted into an already amplified system. Needless to say I sensed a "hush" come over the congregation that hadn't been there before. Essentially, he had lost his audience. All that he had said before his unneeded shout was lost.
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
If a "truly good message" gets lost because the preacher (unnecessarily) shouts three words at the end, doesn't that say more about the hearer than the preacher?
Richard Flowers avatar
Richard Flowers
0 days ago
2 Timothy 4:2 says "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." The word "Preach" means to proclaim after the manner of a herald, to publish or proclaim openly. Preaching sometimes involves correction, even rebuke... So follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and let Him deal with the hearers! Isaiah 58:1
Frederick L Patterson avatar
Frederick L Patterson
0 days ago
It is always dangerous to make a blanket statement that covers all, particular when different ethnic traditions are not considered. But the bottom line is that preaching should line up with the Word of God. Isaiah 58:1 so declares - "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins."d
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Prescott Jay Erwin, that's a rather harsh judgement on Charles Reed. Do you know him well enough to imply what you did about him. Charles Reed was present at that sermon and knows exactly how the preacher finished the sermon and what effect that had on the congregation. I'm assuming you weren't. If I'm wrong, and you were present at that particular sermon, you should have mentioned that from the beginning. Either way, I would suggest that your contributions on this forum would be more beneficial to all if you focused less on snide, unChristlike remarks and focused more on actually engaging with the content of the article and speaking from your own experience.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
There's another text in Isaiah that reads: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice" (42:1-3). Preaching God's Word includes knowing that at times it must be preached loudly, and at other times it must be preached gently. It requires discernment to determine what is most appropriate in any particular sermon. You can't just preach however you want, and then let the Holy Spirit deal with the hearers.
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Brother Fernando: Since we can't gauge tone of voice or demeanor when we post, I can see where you might think that it was a "snide" remark, but that's not the way it was intended. I'm not sure there's anything in it that could be construed as un-Christian. Here's my fuller point: In the UK -- where the author ministers -- and in the US, most congregations act like disinterested 3rd parties. If they're engaged, often they're engaged only as critics. Rather than responding to the Lord, people give Siskel and Ebert style thumbs-up or thumbs-down reviews or a reality TV, Simon Cowell style-reviews. Congregations don't seem to be invested in the preaching ministry of their churches. A good sermon is really just a performance that appeals to the congregation's sensibilities or at least that doesn't rub them the wrong way. The author says, "Every word and sentence counts," but the thought that one small gaff can destroy an otherwise very good message is paralyzing to many pastors. I, for one, believe we expect too little of our congregants -- and we trust the Holy Spirit too little that the message shall accomplish that which He pleases and that He shall cause it to prosper in the thing whereto He sent it. As church leaders (churchleaders.com), we should be leading our congregants to be engaged enough that a message with substance won't be discarded due to a small stylistic miscue.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Prescott Jay Erwin, I appreciate your response; and I apologize for having misunderstood your remarks. A very small percentage of what we communicate is the words themselves--most of it is things like body language and tone of voice. So obviously, when all we have are the words, misunderstanding are bound to come up every now and then. So I thank you for taking the time to clarify. I agree with you that for many in our congregations, what constitutes as a "good sermon" is often nothing more than an appealing performance. I agree that hearers of the Word need to engage more in the preaching of the sermon, and be open and receptive to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, not allowing distractions or "mistakes" by the preacher close them off from receiving the message God wants us to receive. And I agree with you 100 percent that we need to trust more in the Holy Spirit to make up for the mistakes we make. An article on this site that was posted earlier by Dallas Willard reminded us that "it?s what [God does] with the Word between your lips and their hearts that matters." That is a very comforting thought for us preachers! On the other hand, we also need to accept the reality that mistakes on our part DO have consequences, and we need to take that seriously. You wrote the following: "[W]e should be leading our congregants to be engaged enough that a message with substance won't be discarded due to a small stylistic miscue." You are right about that, but we don't know that that's what happened in the sermon Charles Reed spoke about. My original concern was that even though yours was a good point in general, it seemed unfair to apply that point to a particular sermon in which neither of us was present. It may have been more than a "small stylistic miscue." And yet, as I'm sure you and I both agree, however small or big that error was, I'm sure that the Holy Spirit was still present, and that for at least some in the congregation, the message wasn't completely lost.
Reynold Moses avatar
Reynold Moses
0 days ago
In my opinion this article is too vague in its treatment of the subject and lacking in substantive evidence. Also the whole area of culture cannot be overlooked, In my part of the world for the most part, passion, intensity and forceful delivery is considered synonymous!
Reynold Moses avatar
Reynold Moses
0 days ago
In my opinion this article is too vague in its treatment of the subject and lacking in substantive evidence. Also the whole area of culture cannot be overlooked, In my part of the world for the most part, passion, intensity and forceful delivery is considered synonymous!
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Amen, Brother Fernando. Thank the Lord for the work of the Spirit! I might also add to Dallas Willard's thought that what God does with the Word between the preacher's heart and his lips is as crucial as what he does between the preacher's lips and the listener's heart. I guess something else to keep in mind about this article is that it was just a blog post, not a carefully thought-through preaching article. Part two of the post was about the problem of "Passionless Preaching." In the meantime, brothers and sisters: We have not received a spirit of timidity or fear, but of power and love and self-control, so preach the Word, for a time is coming -- and may already be here -- when people will not endure sound doctrine. Work while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; do the work of an evangelist, for night is coming when no one can work.
William Johnston avatar
William Johnston
0 days ago
"Being known as a shouting preacher won?t help you on several levels." I would have liked to have known what the "several levels" are. I am a passionate preacher and I agree with the authors article. I also agree that more substance could have been offered. The comments surrounding this article are great and I really appreciate the thoughts being communicated. Very helpful.
Larry Crismon, Ii avatar
Larry Crismon, Ii
0 days ago
This article's title is misleading and erroneous. It should read '4 Problems with Preaching Guided ONLY by Passion'. If the problem is lack of substance in preaching, that is not inextricably bound to being passionate. Lack of substance is a thing of it's own that has no place in ANY pulpit anywhere, whether passionate or not. Lack of substance and preparation are an affront to God and other prepared ministers everywhere. Now as to simply passion, where I minister, if the preacher is not passionate and does not seem moved or inspired by his own words (which truly should be God's Words), my audience will flip their mind and heart's listening switch to the OFF position. I don't get excited about the Word to induce a reaction from my audience, I get excited because the Word has induced a reaction in MY spirit! I'm excited because that Word of help, encouragement, salvation, healing, or even rebuke that I have spoken over their lives also applies to me. When I am no longer passionate about hearing or proclaiming God's Word, I will sit down and sit in one of your audiences until I get my passion for the Word back!
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Woa! Good word, Larry Crimson II!
Larry Crismon, Ii avatar
Larry Crismon, Ii
0 days ago
Similarly, if my message is simply a theological dissertation that I could disseminate by a newsletter and it have the same impact as if I had delivered it from the pulpit, then preachers and preaching is obsolete. I'll email out those newsletters before next Sunday and maybe somebody will email me back an, 'Amen!'
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Woa! Good word, Larry Crimson II!
Sarah Person avatar
Sarah Person
0 days ago
I have often wondered why some preachers make a loud noise between their phrases or sentences. The noise is like, "Yi ug." or "yi" followed by a loud breath in. I can't figure out why some preachers do it. It's always when the preacher seems to be excited. Why do preachers make this sound?
Jeremy  Johnson avatar
Jeremy Johnson
0 days ago
Jesus was had passion, I think I'll just be like him.
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Well, I can't say I've ever hear the sound you're describing, but there is a tradition/style among some denominations of so-called "hacking." There's a much more pleasant, poetic, musical correlate found mostly in black preaching called "whooping." People ar divided on the effect/effectiveness of such techniques/styles. But when whooping is natural, not manipulative, it can be a very helpful aid in not only showing the preacher's passion for his message, but engaging the congregation as well. I, for one, believe the preaching moment needs to be more of a two-way -- or three-way -- exercise: an energized preacher, an engaged congregation, and an imminent Lord.
  avatar
0 days ago
the annointing is what makes the difference, and NOBODY can be saved (receiving the ingrafted word of god that is the power of GOD unto SALVATION to them that believe) except the spirit of GOD draws them !!!!! when did preaching become about our own opinions of preaching styles???? as a pentecostal preacher(NOT DENOMINATION BUT PENTECOST FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST WITH THE INITIAL EVIDENCE OF SPEAKING IN OTHER TONGUES AS THE SPIRIT OF GOD GIVES UTTERANCE) i have never laid hands on the sick and whispered "be healed" and see blind eyes opened or quietly laid hands on those demon possessed as they foamed at the mouth screaming and saw them delivered or calmly prayed for cancer to be healed and silently saw results. BUT I HAVE YEILDED TO THE HOLY GHOST AS HE USED THIS BODY AND VOICE TO PHISICALLY OPEN BLINDED EYES, SET THE CAPTIVE FREE, AND HEAL THE SICK AS JESUS PROMISED US IN HIS WORD HE HAS GIVEN US THE AUTHORITY TO DO!!!! Those miracles had NOTHING to do with me ,but that HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED! PAUL said there would come a day people would have a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. it seems as though we have reached that day as we try to teach one another how to preach the gospel. because of this reason and others such as us not truly standing for ISRAEL and not allowing the HOLY SPIRIT to teach us and lead us into all TRUTH ,sadly the JUDGEMENT OF GOD IS COMING TO AMERICA.. this is not an opinion but simply a voice of this generation ,in humility, warning the people of this land to prepare our hearts to seek the LORD. Mark these words ,even write this down and watch the news. How many more family members,loved ones ,and neighbors will we allow to die and go to hell??? THE LORD IS WARNING HIS PEOPLE THIS DAY OF HIS JUDGEMENT COMING SOON UPON THIS NATION!!! Psalm 33 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" .Are we really still that Nation?? PRAY, PRAY we WILL SEE CATASTROPHIES MARK THESE WORDS!!!!!!
  avatar
0 days ago
JUDGEMENT IS COMING TO AMERICA VERY SOON, we must humble ourselves and pray. Prepare the LORD is at hand!!! We have turned our backs on the Lord as a nation. write these words down and watch the news. i dont know what form this is coming in but the sheep know the shepherds voice.PRAY!!!!!!!
  avatar
0 days ago
In responce to #3 Charles Reed what makes you think a "hush" in church was words not effectively spoken by the spirit of god??? I am not tryin to argue or pretend that i was there to hear ,or pretending to know the hearts of gods people who heard a word and got real quite afterward only god knows the hearts of man. Will the lord allow a whole message to return void because of 3 loud words?????I dare not speak a word against the lords annointed
  avatar
0 days ago
one thing lacking in the church today is PASSION!!! as a minister i realize there must be balance but should we preach without passion , serve the lord without PASSION ,or do any KINGDOM WORK WITHOUT PASSION???? I will leave that to the holy spirit . GOD has called us with different ministries in many areas as one body. If we lose our passsion and zeal for the lord afraid to offend someone by gettin to loud we would probably make a decent motivaional speaker at best. Will we stop preaching the BLOOD OF JESUS next in fear of offending the lost????? RESSURECTION???? SECOND COMING OF THE LORD??? Lord help us to stand for you !!!!!!
  avatar
0 days ago
Peter Mead just a thought for your next article. "How to regain our PASSION for the Lord". This seems to be able to advance the kingdom of god much more than us trying to tell preachers how to not preach with too much passion. Just a thought to pray about. love ya brother!
  avatar
0 days ago
the annointing is what makes the difference, and NOBODY can be saved (receiving the ingrafted word of god that is the power of GOD unto SALVATION to them that believe) except the spirit of GOD draws them !!!!! when did preaching become about our own opinions of preaching styles???? as a pentecostal preacher(NOT DENOMINATION BUT PENTECOST FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST WITH THE INITIAL EVIDENCE OF SPEAKING IN OTHER TONGUES AS THE SPIRIT OF GOD GIVES UTTERANCE) i have never laid hands on the sick and whispered "be healed" and see blind eyes opened or quietly laid hands on those demon possessed as they foamed at the mouth screaming and saw them delivered or calmly prayed for cancer to be healed and silently saw results. BUT I HAVE YEILDED TO THE HOLY GHOST AS HE USED THIS BODY AND VOICE TO PHISICALLY OPEN BLINDED EYES, SET THE CAPTIVE FREE, AND HEAL THE SICK AS JESUS PROMISED US IN HIS WORD HE HAS GIVEN US THE AUTHORITY TO DO!!!! Those miracles had NOTHING to do with me ,but that HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED! PAUL said there would come a day people would have a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. it seems as though we have reached that day as we try to teach one another how to preach the gospel. because of this reason and others such as us not truly standing for ISRAEL and not allowing the HOLY SPIRIT to teach us and lead us into all TRUTH ,sadly the JUDGEMENT OF GOD IS COMING TO AMERICA.. this is not an opinion but simply a voice of this generation ,in humility, warning the people of this land to prepare our hearts to seek the LORD. Mark these words ,even write this down and watch the news. How many more family members,loved ones ,and neighbors will we allow to die and go to hell??? THE LORD IS WARNING HIS PEOPLE THIS DAY OF HIS JUDGEMENT COMING SOON UPON THIS NATION!!! Psalm 33 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" .Are we really still that Nation?? PRAY, PRAY we WILL SEE CATASTROPHIES MARK THESE WORDS!!!!!!
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
I think someone's passionate about this discussion! :-D
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Mr. Anonymous, you reposted the same message six times. I'm assuming it was unintentional, in which case I would like to let you know that if you refresh the page with your comments still in the "Join the discussion" box, those comments will keep reposting. It's a common mistake which we see every now and then. Just clear the box before you refresh, and it won't happen again....As far as your response to Charles Reed, you yourself said truthfully that you weren't there at that sermon and you didn't hear how the preacher spoke at the end or how the congregation reacted. Charles Reed was there, and he presented nothing more than his impression; so let's just leave it like that. You wrote: "Will the lord (sic) allow a whole message to return void because of 3 loud words?" Well, probably not; and like I told Prescott Jay Erwin, I'm sure there must have been SOME there for whom the message was not lost by the outburst at the end. But again, mistakes have consequences, and we must do our best not to let ourselves stand in the way of God's Word. This isn't about "speaking a word against the Lord's anointed." No preacher is above constructive criticism....One last thing, I think there are several here who are misunderstanding the point of the article. Perhaps the title of the article contributes to the misunderstanding, in which case we must keep in mind that the author of the article does not always choose the title it is published under--sometimes that is a decision made by editors. Regardless, Mr. Mead is NOT arguing that we should preach WITHOUT passion, or even without too much passion. He is arguing (rightly!) that passion uncontrolled or expressed in an inappropriate manner given the context can be counterproductive. The key here is not to eliminate or reduce passion, but rather to channel it so that passion is serving the message, instead of the message serving our passion (which I fear is sometimes the case!).
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Yes, I've commented many times on quality and accuracy of the article headlines/titles.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Prescott, yes, the title aren't always the best. I've published some stuff in magazines before, so I know from experience that the title I submit is not always the one that is used. And the title that gets published is not always the one I'd prefer! That's why it's important to make our comments based on the actual content of the article, rather than simply reacting to a superficial understanding of the article, or worse, of the title!
  avatar
0 days ago
Are souls being saved, delivered ,healed, discipled, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost with initial evidence of speaking in other tongues (for the purpose of being endued with power from on High{Luke 24:49} to be an effective witness, and the spiritual gifts in operation in the local church??? Without these the Kingdom of God is not advancing so yell/whisper, passion/no passion , BUT if we see these results shout 3 times or scream 10 times with passion it really doesn't matter because it is only the Lord who can bring these kind of results. If we don't see people saved,healed,delivered after preaching WHY are we preaching????
  avatar
0 days ago
Amen on that .Although we do have to be careful about keeping ourselves out of the way while preaching. We can at times mistake being loud for annointing. Anyone can raise their voice ,but only those "sent can truly preach".

So, what did you think?


Thank you.