Our preaching can be diminished by certain ruts. One of these ruts is the temptation to preach week after week about behaviors and actions that people should not do. I have known lots of preaching that picks a negative action or a sin and goes on about how it is bad, why it is bad, why it should not be in our life, and then closes with how bad it is again.
Topics such as don’t lie, don’t be negative, don’t sin, don’t be legalistic, and on and on. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with this but the it becomes a problem when that is all your people hear and they start to see Christianity as a list of rules they have to check off and make sure they are not doing a bunch of things to be “right with Jesus”
So here is how we can preach about what we should do instead of what we shouldn’t:
Preach on what positive actions people should be doing
I make it a point in my preaching in teaching to focus on the positive action as much as I can. For instance: instead of do not lie instead focus on be honest, instead of do not be negative focus on living positively, instead of do not sin focus on doing good, instead of do not be legalistic preach on Christian freedom and tolerance in non-essentials.
Preach about how to love Jesus, how to love others, how to pray effectively, how to give effectively, how to serve, and on and on.
If our lives are focused on the positive actions to do instead of the negative actions we should not do then that is good!
Always Present the alternative positive action to a negative action
Sometimes we do have to focus on not doing the negative action. That is okay but when we do this we should always present the alternative to the negative action. So for instance is you are going to preach on how destructive gossip and negative talk about other people present the alternative to that lifestyle which is encouraging and uplifting speech.
This way your audience understands that a life following Jesus is not just about getting rid of a bunch of behaviors but it is also about living out positive actions inspired by the grace and love of Jesus.
When we do have to preach on not doing certain things it is always imperative to emphasize grace in that teaching. I try not to just bang away at people about a certain sin or attitude and then just leave them hanging. Share the good news! No matter how bad the subject is that you are preaching on Jesus clears all our sin if we only call on his name! So emphasize that good news do not just drone on about bad news and how everything is hopeless.
This is especially important-emphasize the grace of Jesus because doing things or not doing things would not even matter without it.
But do not under emphasize holiness
I have already talked about how I like to emphasize the positive action we should be doing in our life not the negative things we should not be doing. But, in doing this I try to be careful that I do not under emphasize living a life of holiness.
I have found the best way to look at this is to teach people how if they have good fruit and live a good life trying to follow Jesus then they will be valuing the role of holiness in their life.