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preaching article Study: What Preachers Won't Preach About

Study: What Preachers Won't Preach About

based on 6 ratings
Aug 10, 2011

As reported in an article in Your Church magazine, 55 percent of pastors can identify one or more topics on which they would not preach at all or only sparingly, because the sermon could negatively affect their hearers' willingness to attend church in the future. 

Among them are:

Politics - 38 percent

Homosexuality - 23 percent

Abortion - 18 percent

Same-sex marriage - 17 percent

War - 17 percent

Women's role in church and home - 13 percent

The doctrine of election - 13 percent

Hell - 7 percent

Money - 3 percent

Editor's note: What's your reaction to this report? Should pastors avoid hot-button issues like politics in preaching? Are there specific topics you avoid in the pulpit? Share your comments with the SermonCentral community below. 

Toni Ridgaway serves as Content Editor for SermonCentral.com and its sister site, ChurchLeaders.com.

Talk about it...

John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
What do we read about these matters in God's Word?
Rev. James Burrell avatar
Rev. James Burrell
0 days ago
As a pastor the day I avoid preaching the whole word of God will be the day I leave the ministry! One of the problems in our country today are compromising preachers.
Terry Cheek avatar
Terry Cheek
0 days ago
I do not avoid any topics, if the Holy Spirit leads me to them He will lead me through them. I preach them with a heart of love but I do preach them.
Michael Morton avatar
Michael Morton
0 days ago
I preach on the Christians role in politics but generally not on political issues. I do preach on moral issues that are in the political arena. I don't preach the doctrine of election; it's not part of our church doctrine. I use the lectionary for preaching about 95 of the time. The lectionary broadens my approach to various topics and keeps me from preaching on a particular topic(s) in excess.
Joseph Yunik avatar
Joseph Yunik
0 days ago
Paul stated that he taught the whole counsel of God. If there is one place that must not be politically correct, it is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.
Jim Ressegieu avatar
Jim Ressegieu
0 days ago
I do not preach on politics--Jesus seemed to advocate honor obedience to the rulers. I do not teach on election--my denomination does not recognize it. Why only the "women's role in church and home?" I'd balance that with the numerous examples in the Bible of women leaders who had opinions outside of the domestic duties, the rest of the isses, yes I preach them, however, I often have to go outside the lectionary about "hell" it seems to soft pedal that issue.
Mark Pyles avatar
Mark Pyles
0 days ago
May our Lord have mercy upon men who stand behind the sacred pulpit yet will not preach the whole counsel of God because their denomination disapproves! Be true to the Word, not man! Probably the topic I have been most persecuted for preaching is the doctrine of election. Yet I will continue to magnify God's sovereignty in salvation until He takes me home.
Thomas D. Weill avatar
Thomas D. Weill
0 days ago
In my early years of pulpit ministry, I was taught that every word that was spoken from the pulpit was a great responsibility that we should never take lightly. With the inspiration and anointing of the Holy Spirit, we can speak on any topic, bar none!
Thomas D. Weill avatar
Thomas D. Weill
0 days ago
In my early years of pulpit ministry, I was taught that every word that was spoken from the pulpit was a great responsibility that we should never take lightly. With the inspiration and anointing of the Holy Spirit, we can speak on any topic, bar none!
Donald Rapp avatar
Donald Rapp
0 days ago
I teach through books of the bible which leaves me no alternative but to teach what ever presents itself as we go. I don't have to consider the topic I am going to preach on it is determined by the writer of the book and ultimately by God who is ultimatly the Author of His word. This tends to free me from worrying about what I am speaking on and when we get to difficult topics it is because that is where God is leading us through His word not a decision on my part. I have found that most Bible books touch on all major doctrines to some degree and a wide variety of topics.
Spencer Miller avatar
Spencer Miller
0 days ago
These preachers will have to make a choice, preach what they think the people will tolerate or preach what God called them to preach regardless of the consequences?
Brian Lewis avatar
Brian Lewis
0 days ago
Should we avoid hot-button issues? Not if you call yourself a Christian. We have been called to preach God's Word in it's entirety. The topic of salvation could be considered a hot-button topic in some circles. So should we not preach the Gospel?
Robert Phillips avatar
Robert Phillips
0 days ago
There are different venues for sharing the word of God. Some issues are better shared in the home, or one on one. Certainly avoiding issues that you are being led to share from the pulpit is wrong, but "hiding" behind the pulpit to blast an issue that is a current problem with some of your flock is also wrong. If you are truly hearing and following the lead of the Spirit, then He will show you the time and the place to share, whether it is from the pulpit or at the dining room table around a cup of tea.
Charles Mosher Iii avatar
Charles Mosher Iii
0 days ago
The last church I pastored I did preach the whole counsel of God, and it did indeed separate the wheat from the chaff, and yes it was tough to see the "congregation filter out" however, that is what the Word of God does. The Word of God will separate the bone and marrow. But He will purify the church, and chances are that those that leave would have caused the church to "compromise" . Beside preachers, are we in the ministry as a calling or as a career.
Charles Mosher Iii avatar
Charles Mosher Iii
0 days ago
Brother Pyles is correct, yes Brother Rapp, expository preaching covers most topics, and if you are preaching thru Genesis as I did and come to Sodom and Gomorrah, or election in Romans and Ephesians, at least the congregation knows where you are heading, and not preach in the flesh, but scripturally, God will honor it.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
So roughly 1 in 4 are scared to preach from the Bible on homosexuality. Really? What do they do when they get to those passages? Do they get to those passages? That is shameful if they are more scared of being politically correct than preaching the Bible.
Steven Chapman avatar
Steven Chapman
0 days ago
"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching easts want to hear" follows Paul's instruction on faithful preaching. Many preachers today have fallen to the same seduction that Paul warned Timothy of 2000 years ago for the sake of ensuring a paycheck ... I think that when he says elsewhere, "they have already received their reward," is equally true in those cases.
Saul Dela Cruz avatar
Saul Dela Cruz
0 days ago
Your are correct Rev. James, as a servant of God we have to preach the whole gospel to the whole world without compromising.
Paul Zeron avatar
Paul Zeron
0 days ago
Preaching on just about every Scripture should run the risk of offending if we are giving people a challenge to change something in their lives. I would first like to see what people call a negative response. Does this include just not being interested in the topic? Does it include the preacher having handled the topic in an obnoxious way? The least we can discern from such a report is that these are sensitive subjects for whatever reason that require us to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves.
Stan Roam avatar
Stan Roam
0 days ago
If pastors do not preach what the bible says, then they are preaching heresy and are heretics!
Tony Russo avatar
Tony Russo
0 days ago
Even SC is selective on certain topics and will present the views that are generally acceptable. There is room for differences to be aired. It was 1500 years before the gospel was presented with awesome power in the Reformation. Before that time the Christian world believed in teachings that were not Biblical. The Reformation is not over. We should be open to discusions that might open the way to see things differently .
Jerry Woods avatar
Jerry Woods
0 days ago
There is hardly a subject that Scripture does not cover in fact or in principle. Western Culture is based on Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Pastors avoiding to teach and preach all the Word of God is the reason our Western Culture is in Crisis ! Capitalism is based on the commandment "Thou shalt not steal". Our college youth are listening socialists professors and they are unarmed with the Word of God because of the silence in the pulpits. It's time to turn the tide and Preach it !!!
Scott Dossett avatar
Scott Dossett
0 days ago
Everyone here seems to be selling the "preach the whole word/counsel of God" mantra pretty hard. Nowhere does scripture demand that we preach on every conceivable topic, nor does it tell us to harp on the controversial issues. Some of these are situational issues and do not have to be addressed from the pulpit. We are not primarily cultural-political commentators but servants called to take the good news to the world. We are mentors, leaders, guides and friends. I believe we should take care not to abuse the pulpit by using it as a vehicle to vent our personal political and cultural rants. Such things become a hindrance to the true "word" of God - the gospel. Besides, no one preaches the "whole counsel of God" because no one *knows* the whole counsel of God. Is that the love of God speaking or personal pride?
Bryan Herrington avatar
Bryan Herrington
0 days ago
I do not intentionally avoid any of these issues. However, I am a preacher of the gospel and not a politician. I think when we become involved in politics we are in danger of loosing our prophetic voice to speak to the culture God's Word. Speak forth all the counsel of God? Resoundingly yes! Politics? Not so much!
Michael Wright avatar
Michael Wright
0 days ago
I am actually surprised by some of these numbers, I had a pastor dedicate an entire sermon series on politics, not advocating one side or another but pressing our Biblical responsibility to submit to Governmental Authority, part of that being voting. I've also had two pastors preach on hell, one of them numerous times and he has just not held back on the subject. I've heard a lot of sermons speak of homosexuality but that was never the main focus, my interpretation as to why is it just isn't that big in our area, but it is of course always an issue. I hesitantly recall some comments on Abortion but the truth is again, this just isn't that huge of an issue here. We do have three Planned Parenthoods but they've all committed to working with local adoption agencies over abortion. Washington did pass that Civil Commitment law a few years ago and while there weren't exactly overt sermons there were definately a lot of petitioning and such. Since then I haven't heard a word about it, I think in our area the gay community can hardly be called a community. I have heard a tremendous number of sermons on money management and stewardship because this is a huge Church Growth area, I'd say every two years the daughter church of one of our four or five Mega Churches plants a church locally or within the State region. While I've heard of a few protests in downtown Spokane on the war and such I've never heard a sermon on it and truthfully don't know why I would, unless it's on spiritual warfare which is coming next week. The subject of Women's role in church is always brought up in our 101 classes for people joining, and they tend to keep it balanced... no women pastors but definately women running ministry. As for the doctrine of election that would be something more appropriate for our discipleship classes. Our philosophy is if you eat one day a week you're going to starve to death, so while our goal is to make self feeding disciples we are constantly committed to teaching, and not just on Sunday morning.
Charles M. Swingle avatar
Charles M. Swingle
0 days ago
As preachers, we are the messengers of God. We are called to share with the people what God has put on our heart. If we are being obedient servants of our Lord, We will preach on the subjects that God directs us to. It may be tough, often gut-wrentching, but we must follow the leading of the Lord. We are to be obedient servants, and let God handle everything else.
Glenn Toney avatar
Glenn Toney
0 days ago
Peter says, "If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God." I know that my Heavenly Father addresses ALL of the above topics and many more in His word. Why would I, or any preacher, refrain from preaching anything and everything He leads me by His Holy Spirit to preach? Let the power of His word fall on the hearts that care to listen. We should preach with boldness and courage but most of all love. I believe this is Jesus' example.
Merle Hamblin avatar
Merle Hamblin
0 days ago
After several years of preaching the whole truth of God's Word, I found that this is what the world is looking for. Many people have told me that they want what God says, not some luke-warm or watered down speech. The truth in a nut shell, is that people want a Life giving, Spirit filled life, with a true relationship with Jesus Christ! Friendly platitudes, jokes and debates, is not what people are looking for. I've preached the Word, in season and out of season. The results have been, where the "rubber meets the road", hence the Salvation of souls and deliverance from sin.
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
If a minister is thematic in his preaching calendar, then he is preaching from his heart, and avoiding God's heart, which is the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
Good conversation, so far. Just a few thoughts: we need to remember that none of the topics mentioned appear in a vacuum. They are all embedded in a context, and they should be preached in that context. Of course, one of the ways to do this is by preaching through Bible books, as has been mentioned by some. But let's not forget that the books of the Bible also do not appear in a vacuum. They, too, are embedded in a context, a story of how God has been working in history to restore the creation that has been marred by sin. So, we need to keep the historical and biblical context of both the book and the entire Scriptures constantly before the congregation if we are going to intepret these issues wisely. Otherwise, the temptation will be to read into the Scriptures our modern understanding of what these topics mean, and then find verses that support our understanding. I hate to pick on Jerry Woods, but his comment sparked my thinking on this issue. He wrote that capitalism is based on the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." But capitalism is not a biblical concept. Certainly, it is not any more biblical than socialism. Both capitalism and socialism are man-made economic theories, and as such, they both promote ideas that are corrupt. And, yes, surely the Bible has had a powerful influence on Western culture, but I would not go so far as to say that Western culture is based on Jesus Christ and the Bible! We can't be so naive as to believe that any fallen culture is not above cloaking its own agenda in Scriptural language in order to receive "divine" endorsement. What I'm trying to say is that if we are going to address these topics in our preaching, which we should because they are all addressed to various degrees in the Scriptures, then we need to learn how to think of these topics biblically. These topics will most likely still be divisive, but at least the division will not be because of things like political or theological preferences.
Richard Arthur avatar
Richard Arthur
0 days ago
I have preached more than once on homosexuality, evolution, abortion and hell. I firmly believe that we are called to preach the whole bible and not just the segments that make people feel happy with themselves. I have found after preaching on one of the above subjects that most of the congregation compliment the sermon.
Michael Buckingham avatar
Michael Buckingham
0 days ago
This post is really interesting! But I really think that instead of these subjects being repelling to people I belive that they will rather spike people's interest and make them want to come to church more often. Everyone likes a bit of drama, and we as Christians could use that to our advantage a little bit!
Mike Ingo avatar
Mike Ingo
0 days ago
Opinions versus Scripture. It is not what I think, but what God says. I must let the mind that was in Christ Jesus be in me. The Holy Spirit knows how to address these issues; we must know how to allow Him to do it through us without adding our "two cents." No issue should be taboo when it comes to the life changing Gospel and no "preacher" should fear what offenses a message may bring, but should strive to teach and preach the entire Word of God; "It is more powerful and sharper than any two edged sword." Preach it; preach it all; so that "old fashioned" conviction may lead a heart to true repentance and into the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ron Hoffmann avatar
Ron Hoffmann
0 days ago
If God's Word clearly addresses it, and we don't, then we need to get out of the pulpit! I've been preaching/teaching 35 years and I've spoken on each of these subjects - more than once - some more often. We've gotta stay faithful guys! Preach the Word of God and let the God of the Word sort out the repercussions! Sola Scriptura!!
Barry Johnson avatar
Barry Johnson
0 days ago
I keep teaching God's word very simple: whatever He tells me to say I say.
Uluba Jawur (pastor) avatar
Uluba Jawur (pastor)
0 days ago
The gospel is a total package that touches on every activity and endeavour in our lives. Any preacher that avoid certain topics because he or she may loose members of his congregation is not called of God. There should no no-go area when it has to do with the gospel of Jesus. I preach on every topic but most importantly I wait upon God to be led by Him before venturing to preach on any topic. Fortunately for us in Africa we don't avoid preaching on homosexuality and same sex marriage because in addition to the Bible our culture also condemns them.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.