Preaching Articles

(The article starts off serious and goes downhill from there. Rather than a complete revamping it to make it one thing or the other, I decided to leave it the way it is.  So, halfway through you’ll want to take out your sense of whimsy and make sure it’s in good working order.)

Don’t ever resign your church in a fit of passion. In a rush of anger.

Do that and you’ll inflict great harm on the church and ruin all the good will you have accumulated by years of faithful service.

That’s a huge no-no for preachers.

Last Sunday, I was pleased to see a military chaplain back in town, visiting his family and our church with his wife and children.  We reminisced over a little history going back to when he was a local pastor. One Sunday morning, exasperated over the lack of faithfulness from the church members, as the pastor, he had unloaded on the congregation and ended up walking out on them in the middle of his message.  Then, if that were not bad enough, in that evening’s service, he began by apologizing. But he kept on talking. The more he talked and explained, the more the anger still festering inside broke loose and spewed out onto the congregation. Once again, he walked out, leaving the congregation sitting there stunned.

The next day I mediated between him and his deacons, as they accepted his resignation.

That was a number of years ago, and he tells me that, like untold millions of people before him, the Army made him grow up.

Okay. Do not do that.  Do not vent your anger on your congregation. Not ever.

Here are five others no-no’s that come to mind….

1) Never violate a confidence, either in or out of the pulpit.

“But that story is too good not to tell.” Ever heard that? Or worse, have you ever said it?

If you must, ask the individual for permission to tell the story no closer than a hundred miles away and assure them you will camouflage details and change names so no one would ever make the connection.

2) Never tell a story on your wife without her full support.  And I mean enthusiastic affirmation, not begrudging. However, don’t be surprised if she never gives permission for you to use anything she said or did.  Most wives do not appreciate becoming the subject of her husband’s sermon.

Violating that will result in conditions you would not wish on your worst enemy, pastor.  It’s not worth it, believe me.

That said, if you can, see if she will agree to let you tell the story as having happened to “a pastor I know and his wife.”  If you do this, you must rehearse it 23 times to make sure nothing slips out that shouldn’t.

3) Never fail to minister to someone because “they don’t deserve it.”  Be thankful you are not given what you deserve.  “Freely you have received; freely give.”

4) Never make a promise you do not keep. If you said you’d look something up and get back to the questioner, do that promptly.  If you fail in this and remember it sometime later, write them a note now with a sincere apology.

And on that subject, never fail to apologize when an apology is in order.  Far from that diminishing you, you will grow in the minds and hearts of those to whom you apologize.

5) Never take the week between Christmas and New Year’s as personal vacation time.  It’s the quietest week of the year, and a great time to go into the office for a few hours each day and get some work done.  Since nothing is happening at church, you and your family will have the evenings to yourself.  I always loved that week.

Well, there are only 995 other “no-no’s” for pastors.

When I asked Facebook friends for “things pastors should never do,” the comments poured in. Here are some of the choice ones….

–never leave your private jet exposed to the elements at the airport. Always bring it into the hangar.

–never leave your personal research assistants with nothing to do while you’re on vacation or attending a convention.  If you delegate wisely and your workers are diligent, your next book can be half-written by the time you return.

–never fail to rotate your body-guards lest they get too close to you and see this as a friendship instead of a job.  They must never lose their alertness.

–never announce that you visited a church member from the pulpit, or everyone will be expecting you to visit them, and you do not have time for such one-on-one ministry. You were called for bigger things than this.

–never be seen in public looking less than your best. Your members gain a certain personal esteem from the celebrity of their pastor, and you must not let them down. Your manicurist and hair-dresser, as well as your clothing advisor, depend on you.

–never fail to appreciate your television crew.  Those guys may look like hitch-hikers on the highway, but they can make you or break you. Take care of them.

–Never pray without someone noticing it, especially if that person is prone to gossip. Your reputation needs all the help it can get.

How’s that?  I thought you’d appreciate it.

On the other hand, I seem to recall our Lord talking about the Pharisees who make a show of their religion in order to impress people.  So, strike the last one.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry at

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Charles Thornton

commented on Feb 20, 2016

Never use the pulpit as a platform

Raymond Kloetstra

commented on Feb 20, 2016

Hey Joe; I've broken # 5 for years. All my children and grandchildren live 7-8 hours drive away. If I followed your advise, I would never have Christmas time with my family. If you have kids at home, I understand what your recommend. Most years I work through Christmas to the first Sunday after, then I take a week off over New Years to catch up with family and enjoy a belated Christmas. If I get to see my grandchildren 3-4 times per year, I am doing well. My week off after Christmas and over New Years is a precious gift.

Kathy Wheatley

commented on Feb 22, 2016

Ok, if your family is walking in love as a representative of Christ, IF something should happen to "slip out" in your stories in the pulpit.....I'm sure your family members will continue to walk in that love walk towards you and "let it go", especially your wife BUT to plot and plan a full sermon relating to gossip, here say and sorry you do not know what you are talking about truely reveals that you either do not really hear from God nor do you deserve your position or authority in God and I believe you as the leader should be asked to step down from that church because you are help at the highest accountabillity!

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