If you want to continue using the old site, you still can here.
  • Favorites
  • Print
  • Rate Me

preaching article 10 Preaching Mistakes Everyone Can Avoid

10 Preaching Mistakes Everyone Can Avoid

based on 23 ratings
Jan 23, 2012
Scripture: none
(Suggest Scripture)

 

If you want to help your hearers focus on God and think on God when they leave your sermon, here are 10 things that you CANNOT do …

10. Abuse repetition. 

There is repetition for emphasis, and then there is repetition for annoyance. Discern between the two by listening to other preachers. Perhaps you should ask your wife if you over-repeat yourself. Wives are great assets to pastors because they will often tell you the truth. Church members are often overly kind except for the few “preaching experts” in every congregation.

9. Form your own sermon points first, and then find a text to fit your points. 

Rarely will you find a text to fit your points; instead, in order to make the text fit, you will pluck the text out of context. The text should form your points, instead of you forcing your points onto a text. If you force your points on a text, it is impossible for the Christians in the pew to submit to your teaching and enjoy the Lord through the specific text from which you are preaching.  (Granted, you are probably still preaching truth that is found elsewhere in the Bible; at least, I hope!)

8. Be overly animated.

Everyone will either enjoy you or be terribly annoyed. If they leave the service thinking about you, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, your sermon failed. Remember that the goal of preaching is to excellently allow the Word of God to stand on its own. So don’t be a distraction.

7. Bore your audience.

Do not talk in a monotone voice. The goal is to allow the Word to stand on its own, not to make the most wonderful book ever written the most boring book ever written. You may be so concerned with detracting from the Word that you just want to stand up and read in a monotone voice. Don’t do it, because there is no proof in the Scriptures that any of the prophets, Christ, or apostles did such things when they spoke. In other words, when you overly bore so you won’t detract from the Word, you actually detract from the Word, just on the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are a master of the English language like Jonathan Edwards, then you may be able to get away with this. If Edwards had preached like Whitefield, he may not have led anyone to the Lord, for souls would have been too mesmerized by him to get to Christ.

6. Try too hard to be the funny guy. 

The goal is to get your hearers to enjoy the Word of God, not to enjoy you. If they leave thinking “what a funny preacher,” then you preached a terrible sermon. The Word of God must be on their heart and mind when they leave; and if God is not on their mind when they leave, then they shouldn’t be able to lay this at your feet.

5. Preach your opinion or hobbyhorses instead of the text. 

How can you excellently allow the Word of God to stand on its own when you ignore how God the Holy Spirit originally inspired the literary makeup of the text in its specific historical context? If the Word of God needs your innovation, then it is no longer the Word of God. The most powerful interpretation is the interpretation that the text demands, not what we can speculate, dream up, or spiritualize. If the text demands spiritualizing, then spiritualize; however, if there is no warrant from the text, then you do not have authority to spiritualize. If you spiritualize without textual warrant, then you are detracting from the text. If your hearers listen and try to enjoy the Lord through your spiritualizing, and you have gone beyond the text, then it is impossible for them to enjoy the Lord through the text you are preaching.

4. Use Greek and Hebrew to impress.

Do you know Greek and Hebrew? Do your people know Greek and Hebrew? If not, then why in the world would you use Greek and Hebrew in your sermons? Do the exegetical work during your study time; only use Greek and Hebrew in your sermon whenever it is absolutely necessary in order to communicate the text. This rule is true: Most pastors whom I hear using Greek and Hebrew in their sermons do not know Greek and Hebrew, and most Greek and Hebrew scholars who are pastors do not use Greek and Hebrew in their sermons. I recommend not using Greek and Hebrew because if you do not know Greek and Hebrew, then you will probably misuse it. Here is a good rule of thumb: Prepare and preach your sermon as if the original author of the Scripture is in your audience. If he and God the Holy Spirit can say “amen” to your sermon you have succeeded, but remember that both of them know what they intended, and they are fluent in the biblical languages!

3. Ignore the audience.

I preach in a rural church in Kentucky, and if you preach in a church in a large city, the language that each of us are is allowed to use will be very different. Big theological words are intimidating in my area. Bywords cannot be said from the pulpit unless you want your people leaving thinking about the dirty words that you used. If it is possible that it will offend, then don’t use the language! You will not know this though if you do not consider your audience. Furthermore, your illustrations should be understandable to your audience. If you are preaching to the elderly, they will not understand a reference to the Twilight Saga, Tupac, 50 Cent, etc., but you can probably reference Johnny Cash. If you are preaching in a city, farming references may not be easily understood. Consider these realities when preparing your sermon.

2. Neglect teaching your people to enjoy the Word of God. 

Teaching children that the value of the Bible is bound up in its literary makeup, cool battle stories, or miraculous elements will not help your audience to truly enjoy the Bible; it will merely help them to enjoy the genres or stories of Scripture. Any atheist can enjoy these elements; however, Christians should ultimately enjoy the Word of God because it is the Word of God.

1. Tell a joke or story that has nothing to do with the text. 

Why would you use a joke or story that has nothing to do with the text? You want your hearers to think on the text, not on something else. Whenever you detract from the text, you are only doing the Devil’s and their flesh’s work for them, because they don’t want your hearers to focus on the text either.

What are your thoughts? What mistakes would you add to the list? 



Jared has served in pastoral ministry since 2000. He is the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. He is the author of 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to Be Tipped. Jared is married to Amber and they have four children. He is a teaching assistant for Bruce Ware at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and a  PhD Student in Systematic Theology at SBTS. You can take Jared's Udemy Course, "How to Enjoy God Through Movies, TV, Music, Books, etc." with this link for 43% off. Engage popular culture with Scripture. Enjoy God through popular culture.

 

Talk about it...

David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
Point #3 reminded me of a mistake a fellow pastor made preaching in England. He told the audience that he paddled his kids on the "fanny" when they were bad. The audience was shocked, understandably so. The word he used was local slang for the genetalia. Take care to know the audience!
Charles Wallis avatar
Charles Wallis
0 days ago
Good article with basics points that we are prone to ignore on occasion. Even those who have done this for a while forget the power of God's Word - I am trying to remember always start there first for a good sermon instead of my ideas that clutter the pages. "Word of God speak."
Dr. Luke Kauffman avatar
Dr. Luke Kauffman
0 days ago
Amazing, Jared, for everything sounds like my teaching Homiletic syllabus that I use. Truth is not opinion!!!
Gordon Moore avatar
Gordon Moore
0 days ago
Is telling a joke before you sermon is appropriate? I have seen many a worship service ruined where the people had been brought to his throne by the music and were ready to hear the Word. Then the pastor gets up an tells a joke.
Gordon Moore avatar
Gordon Moore
0 days ago
FYI - I was not asking. Injecting humor during a message to refocus peoples' minds is one thing. I don't believe that telling a joke before a sermon is the best way to honor a Holy God.
Lucinda Arntson avatar
Lucinda Arntson
0 days ago
Illustration of "Ignoring your audience" -- suggesting pastors ask their wives for feedback. If you had simply used the word spouse, you would shown consideration and respect for the women clergy in your audience.
Jared Moore avatar
Jared Moore
0 days ago
Lucinda, You are correct. I revealed my doctrine there. It's not that I disrespect women clergy, we just disagree Scripturally. This article was originally posted on my own site, which has a different audience.
O Bada avatar
O Bada
0 days ago
PLSSSSSSSSS PUT A FACEBOOK SEND BUTTON ON SERMON CENTRAL, AS A MATTER OF URGENCY
Edward Peterson avatar
Edward Peterson
0 days ago
I have been guilty of all these at least once. Thank you for the reminder.
Alexander Shaw avatar
Alexander Shaw
0 days ago
This is very interesting and most relevant and significant. So often I notice in Sermoncentral 'sermons', JOKES that have nothing to do with the topic! Having just returned from a conference with 230 men, one of the talks was on "The Four Marks of a Reformer". These men certainly knew what preaching was all about!
O Bada avatar
O Bada
0 days ago
PLSSSSSSSSS PUT A FACEBOOK SEND BUTTON ON SERMON CENTRAL, AS A MATTER OF URGENCY
Tamika Baker avatar
Tamika Baker
0 days ago
I really needed to read this article. It was very helpful. I am a female preacher and could care less about you saying "ask your wife" I know that I could have made the same mistake if had been the writer. I do agree with the fact that I was contidictory of that portion of your article. I decided to focus on the message and not the messenger.
Mark Street avatar
Mark Street
0 days ago
Wonderful article concerning the ten mistakes to be avoided when preaching God's Holy Word. I would add one more mistake which I learned early as a preacher/pastor: try to be someone else (Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, etc.,). Be real and authentic--God only made one you. This is implied in mistake 6.
Charles Wallis avatar
Charles Wallis
0 days ago
Good article with basics points that we are prone to ignore on occasion. Even those who have done this for a while forget the power of God's Word - I am trying to remember always start there first for a good sermon instead of my ideas that clutter the pages. "Word of God speak."
Robert Sickler avatar
Robert Sickler
0 days ago
Good article. We all need to read this one; file it away; and then reread it from time to time.
Billy V avatar
Billy V
0 days ago
I really enjoyed and learned from this article. I'm sure i have been guilty of several of these in the past. I addition..........."I think, um, that some words, um, can be very, um, distracting."...........When we preach we need to be fully prepared almost to the point of being rehearsed. A good outline and a solid, well prepared power point can keep us on track. If we put in the time and preparation, the "Um" word hopefully will stay home instead of coming to church that day.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.