Preaching Articles

All eyes are on you. Staring. Waiting for you to say something. Many people are sweating just thinking about it. It’s worse than a horror movie. Speaking in front of people is still one of the most common fears for people. You may not go so far as to say that you are afraid to speak in front of people, but it’s likely that you do get nervous before preaching. Is there any remedy for this? I believe so.

I think its natural to get butterflies before you preach. But nervous? I don’t know that nervousness has to be a part of it. I think there are some remedies you can implement that will help you overcome the nervousness you experience before preaching. Here they are…

1. Prepare Well

When you’re prepared and you’ve done the hard work of knowing your material, your level of nervousness should go down. We’ve talked about the importance of this when talking about connecting with the audience, because if you’ve done the hard work of preparation, you won’t have to focus as much on your notes.

When you are prepared well, you are focused not on your notes, but on the people you are preaching to. As Andy Stanley often reminds us, we should “teach people the Bible” not “teach the Bible to people.” What’s the difference? The focus of each phrase.

I’m sure you know the feeling of being unprepared. It’s stressful. On one hand you’re depending on God even more than normal, on the other hand you’re staring at your notes extra or getting off track. 

Want to get rid of nervousness? It begins with preparing well. Do the work. Struggling with being in a creative funk? Try these 5 things and get out of the funk.

2. Modify Your Focus

When you get nervous before you preach, your focus is on yourself. You’re focused on what you will say, what people will think of you, and whether or not you will deliver the goods. It’s easy to become nervous and full of anxiety when your focus is all on you. None of us are capable of doing this preaching endeavor. We are jars of clay. We are fragile. We can’t do this on our own.

So modify your focus. Instead of focusing on what you will say, begin to focus on the people you are about to preach to. Think about their faith (or lack thereof), their circumstances, their struggles, their prayer requests, their families, their friends, the community they (and you) are a part of. 

Begin to focus on the unending connections the Word of God will make within the minds and hearts of the hearers in that moment of preaching. God’s Word connects to each person’s circumstance and speaks to their heart. That’s the amazing thing about preaching. No matter the specifics, the Word of God connects.

Don’t just focus on the people, but also focus on the message. Not the specific words or points, but the spirit of the message. What are the implications of the message for the people? What is the burden you have developed for the text and the people?

Get excited. You’re about to present God’s Word!

3. Pray Specifically

Before I preach, I pray specifically for the message that God’s Word is springing forth within me and will spring forth to the people that day. I ask God to bless His word and to do what only He can do – cause the seeds to grow. 

I pray specifically for the people who will be receiving the Word that morning. I ask God to open their hearts to what He wants them to hear. I ask Him to convict them, change them, to bring about a revolution in their hearts.

I pray specifically for myself. I ask God to push me to the side and to take over. I ask Him to lead and I’ll follow. I never want to preach in my own strength, but only in His. 

Still Nervous?

What do you think? Do these remedies actually remedy your nervousness? If not, I would encourage you to ask God to search your heart and to examine it yourself also. What is causing you to get nervous? Again, I’m not simply talking about butterflies, but something more. What are you worried about, exactly? Is it the pure weight of the endeavor of preaching? I get it, I do. But maybe you’re depending too much on yourself. 

I’d love to hear from you. Do you still get nervous? What about? What do you do to remedy the nervousness?

Brandon Kelley serves at a fast-growing church plant in Batavia, Ohio (east side of Cincinnati) called The Crossing in the role of Outreach & Communications Pastor. He loves to learn and write about preaching and leadership. Connect with him on Twitter.

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Walter Zimmer

commented on Dec 7, 2015

Nervous before speaking the Word of God? May it never be!

Mike Brenneman

commented on Dec 7, 2015

Brandon, I almost didn't read your article, specifically because of point number 1. If I'm well prepared then I'm eager, not nervous. But! Your advice on prayer--specifically asking God to open their hearts--to convict them...was wonderful and something I have been overlooking. Thank-you so much.

E L Zacharias

commented on Dec 7, 2015

Brandon, interesting topic. Every Sunday morning I prepare a special concoction to give me nourishment to relieve my stress. My mom, a nurse, called it a "Black Cow." It is a glass of milk with a mixture of a tablespoon of Brewers Yeast and a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses. Brewers Yeast can be found at a health food store; it runs about $11. Brewers yeast is packed with almost all the B vitamins and other minerals, which are essential to healthy skin, hair, and nerves. The blackstrap molasses adds essential iron, along with sweetness. I have a picture of my father at 35: a young pastor with a greatly receding hairline. After that picture was taken he married this smart lady; by the time he died in his mid-80s, he had regained much of that lost hair. For convenience, I made a pre-mixture of the black cow. To the full container of brewers yeast I mix a quarter-cup of Nestles powdered baking cacao, which is also very high in iron. This way I only need to grab the one container and the milk. Disclaimer: Brewers yeast is bitter, so be prepared not to like it. Over time you will get used to it. Bottom line, never go into the pulpit undernourished. Grab a V-8 or orange juice or a gulp of olive or grape seed oil, which also relaxes your nerves. Coffee might seem to be a boost, but besides having no nutritional value, it can actually drive up your blood pressure to a level that is dangerous. Take care of yourselves, brethren!

E L Zacharias

commented on Dec 7, 2015

Correction: My powdered drink actually has 1/2 cup cacao, along with the same of lecithin, high in protien, and flax seed powder, high in omega 3.

John W Carlton

commented on Dec 7, 2015

There is always a little bit of nervousness when I am to preach or sing even though I may be well prepared. It's an awesome responsibility to be standing before a congregation to speak God's Word to a waiting people. Experience helps but there is always that hesitation. Asking the Lord to speak through you is a wonderful way to conquer those fears.

Jeff Strite

commented on Dec 7, 2015

The one thing that helped me deal with nervousness (beside proper preparation and total dependence on God's carrying me through) was the asking of one basic question: "Why should anyone care?" If I can answer that one question in the sermon the fear goes away and there is driving passion to meet that which people do care about.

Natasha Ten Krooden

commented on Dec 8, 2015

Thanks for the great article, also the distinction between butterflies and nervousness. I often find myself very nervous to the brink of anxiety- My prayer is always "Dear Lord, do not let me screw this up." Not because I didn't prepare, but usually because I know how precious the message and how much it could mean. What helps me is keeping separate from the crowds before the sermon reminding myself out loud that I can't go wrong if I share what God's love shared with me, that it is all for the glory of God and even if it didn't take home it is because God willed it so. I will definitely try the black cow concoction.

Keith Edwards

commented on Dec 8, 2015

Great information!! His grace is sufficient or us, for His power is made perfect in weakness!,

Keith Edwards

commented on Dec 8, 2015

Keith Edwards

commented on Dec 8, 2015

2 Corinthians 12:9,

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