Honor your heroes with 24 Memorial Day Quotes for Preaching.
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I’m on the interstate, solidly in the middle of the pack of motorists, holding my own at a comfortable 65 or 70 or even slightly more. Suddenly, from out of nowhere—maybe he dropped down out of the sky!—a motorcycle is all over me, appearing suddenly on my back bumper or just to my left elbow, then swerving around.

The noise is horrendous and completely unexpected. He zooms past like he was jet-propelled and disappears into the distance.

I am unnerved.

Honestly, I feel like taking the next exit and finding a rest area where I can pause and get hold of myself, breathe deeply and regain my composure.

That was frightening.

The cyclist has no idea what he did. Or maybe he did.

Common sense says the fellow under that helmet drives a car from time to time and surely has had the experience of having a daredevil on a Harley materialize out of nowhere and scare the blazes out of him. Or maybe not.

If he had, he’d never do that to anyone else.

At this point I have a private conversation with the unknown cyclist. No, I do not curse him (really).  In fact, I’m far more likely to send up a prayer that the Lord will “protect that fool and protect everyone he comes into contact with; he’s an accident looking to happen.”

Then, I wish I could tell him one huge thing ...

The faster you go, the more invisible you become.

An 18-wheeler barreling down the interstate at 90 mph is at least visible. But you are slightly larger than a bicycle, and at that rate of speed you are all over a driver before he knows you are there. And what that means is…

You are vulnerable to his pulling out in front of you as he changes lanes. We can hear him telling the cop as they scrape your body off the asphalt, “I’m as sorry as I can be, officer. But I didn’t see the guy.”

You were almost invisible.

Now, that’s lesson enough for anyone right there without any moralizing and sermonizing on it. It’s a lesson in safety on the highways we should all take into account: The faster we drive, the less likely other drivers will see us. Thus we endanger ourselves, our passengers and others on the highway.

The lesson for pastors?

In the same way motorists lose the ability to think and will react instinctively, good or bad, when the motorcycle appears on their bumper with a noise like (ahem) rolling thunder, the preacher who attacks his people with fast talk and loudness, with rapid-fire delivery and overpowering theatrics, is taking away their ability to think rationally about what he’s saying. Any response he gets will be defensive, reactive, instinctive.

And probably short-lived.

Such preachers should not be surprised if they don’t follow through on decisions made under such duress.

You have to wonder about some preaching styles and techniques. Or, put another way, you have to wonder about some preachers.

The staccato delivery some entire denominations practice from their pulpits is a wonder to me.

It’s not in the Bible.

They’re clearly learning from one another.

As though generations of Jacob’s descendants imitated his limp (Genesis 32:31-32) or the followers of Moses’ patterned their speech after his lisp (Exodus 4:10).

Come on, guys. Stop this foolishness.

Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus shifting into oratorical overdrive and putting on a show for the people. Instead, he talked to them, explained things and taught them.

A few quick suggestions on how a preacher can slow down his sermon delivery …

1. Tell a story.

2. Stop and pray.

3. Ask a question.

4. Enlist your wife and kids’ help.

5. Listen to other preachers. David Jeremiah, for one.

6. Sing a song. Or have someone else sing one. Or lead the congregation.

7. Ask the Lord to help you aim at lasting fruit from your preaching and not live or die by the verbal approval of your people.

8. Study the gospels and learn to preach like Jesus. (What a revolutionary thought.)

“Slow down and live, friend.” After all, speed kills.



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 JoeMcKeever.com.

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Doug Joseph

commented on Aug 27, 2014

The speaking style of Jesus was apparently very distinct (He spoke with power and authority). We should not speak powerfully? The author thinks he knows the rate of Jesus' word delivery, volume, style? How? This article seems quite baseless. ???

Rev. A. David Griffin

commented on Aug 27, 2014

You're more on point than you may know.

Rev. A. David Griffin

commented on Aug 27, 2014

You're more on point than you may know.

Danny Presswood

commented on Aug 27, 2014

Joe I've been a fan for years. I understand your point concerning theatrics in the pulpit. However, I think you may have underestimated Christ's passion in preaching. I can't imagine Him showing no emotion when He cleared the temple. Or in preaching, when He used terms like brood of viper, whitewashed tombs full of dead mens bones, etc. Or even in sermon on the mount outside Captain when he told folks - if you even fantasize about having sex with a woman you are sinning. I see passion, emotion, excitement, and even a sense of urgency in Jesus' preaching. So I completely agree with you that we should study Jesus andpreach like Him. BBlessings on your vital and life changing ministries for the Kingdom. Danny

Robert Gaul

commented on Aug 27, 2014

Jesus commissioned us to make disciples, not get everyone to hop on a band wagon. I preach to teens in NJ who are unchurched- they know nothing about true Christianity. Bro. Joe is talking about discipleship. This is what we are commanded to do!

Rev. A. David Griffin

commented on Aug 27, 2014

Unfortunately that's not what he said. He specifically focused upon the preaching moment. And you're correct though, there is a distinction between the two.

Rev. A. David Griffin

commented on Aug 27, 2014

I'm surprised, but then perhaps not, at the seemingly insensitive observations McKeever makes. And I must say, I probably have never read a more insensitive article (on such a large platform) as this. For your consideration I've raised a few points for someone who lives and ministers in a large melting pot of ethnic and cultural diversity as New Orleans should know; if only by walking down the street; the distinct nuances those cultures bring to the worship experience are vast, powerfully significant [to that culture] and historically relevant to those peoples lives and faith. To analyze them as insufficient or ineffective is beyond hubris and quite revealing of his personal assessment of the "other" group who he may be referencing. It is true that the "Call and Response" style of rhetoric is not found in a 2000 yr old Grecian culture; but some of the Socratic influences are. As a Black "Baptist trained" minister I sometimes find myself sympathizing with some of McKeever's observations of the manufactured forms of preaching, and whether or not the message is being clear, but this is mainly because they are not naturally a part of "my" style, but over the years I've grown to appreciate - instead of denigrate their roles. For Christ to flourish through the preaching moment one must understand that it is the Spirit of God, working through many devices of the emotion and flesh; such as ones personality, history, culture and relationships; that provide the rich soul for the Holy Spirit to bring about conversion and sanctification. No matter the style even "rock" as Jesus pointed out. I personally found this article extremely one dimensional and revealing as to some of the bias which unfortunately still exists in American Christianity and homiletical training.

Mark Sparks

commented on Aug 27, 2014

I guess I might see where your coming from. If you are preaching a certain style becuase you are imitating another preacher then you are wrong. But if your preaching style is being led by the Holy Spirit You cannot be wrong. Since I can neither see in a ministers heart or mind (Only God can). I will not make a judgement call except to say if I don't enjoy a particular style then I will not sit under your ministry for long but I will pray to God to lead me to a church with a ministry style that suits me. Just comparing Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul. You will see different styles.

Mark Sparks

commented on Aug 27, 2014

I hate to see someone attempt to model everyone to their style. When I first started as a minister I thougt I will never be able to preach like my Dad (The greatest minister I know but he only had a 3rd grade education). He simply told me I should not try... He said preach the way that God leads you. The best advice I ever had.

Rev. A. David Griffin

commented on Aug 27, 2014

Kudos to Dad!

Steve Burks

commented on Aug 27, 2014

Well said Doug. I seem to remember Jesus went into the temple and turned a few tables over to make a point. I am not recommending that but never the less he did it.

Joe Mckeever

commented on Aug 27, 2014

It's interesting reading the comments. I say slow down so you can be understood by your audience and give them time to think about what you are saying and you say this is unlike the way Jesus preached, that I am urging you to preach without passion? C'mon guys. Be fair.

Rev. A. David Griffin

commented on Aug 27, 2014

I made no reference to passion because I don't believe that was your focus. You were talking about homiletics and style more than anything; couched within certain cultural contextualized settings. I suspect your initial points of maintaining the attention and creating a greater sense of the narrative was your objective, but not realized in your article. I don't think I have ever responded as so to any article I've read, but sir, I suggest you sincerely reconsider 'others' because as you know, from your missionary work, it's a larger vineyard than your front yard.

Tony Bland

commented on Aug 28, 2014

I cant not understand anything in rap music, do that mean the kids that buy rap music cannot understand what is being said. Who am i to tell LL Cool J to slow down no body can understand him and think. God bless

Dr T. Edward

commented on Aug 27, 2014

I became a bit concerned when you (McKeever) started naming preachers whose style you like and advising other preachers to alter their style to be more like his. Even stating that a fast, voluminous delivery was "not in the Bible". What exactly does that mean? Peter (Acts 2) was so unique in his style that they supposed he might be drunk. Paul (Acts 20) perhaps had a different style, he was so lengthy and perhaps slow in his delivery that Eutychus fell asleep and fell out of the window and died. Jesus on the road to Emmaus was so powerful and passionate that the two disciples said "didn't our hearts burn within us as he spoke..." Some of the greatest preachers in the world were fast, loud, dramatic and theatrical and reached millions for Christ; Billy Sunday (famous for his theatrics), early Billy Graham, and Reinhard Bonnke to name a few. I think I will stay in company like that!

Steve Sorensen

commented on Aug 27, 2014

Try to imagine you had never heard of the modern big printed names. Now just be yourself in the Lord following the examples of His word. Be free.

Deborah De Los Santos

commented on Aug 27, 2014

I too have seen some irresponsible motorcyclist running down the freeway only on one wheel. And I understand that some Preachers lose sight of giving God the Glory and boasting not in self but rather in God who made their preaching possible. I know all Ministers have their own style and I am not saying that is wrong but we all need to keep our preaching stlyle and our life style centered on the Cross. Deborah De Los Santos , newly Ordained Evangelist.

Richard Scotland

commented on Aug 28, 2014

If someone has told you that you preach too fast, then there are some good pointers here. However, I do not like the subtle dig at some denominations. I am sure that if members of these congregations are feeling "defensive, reactive, instinctive." then surely they are not being fed properly and would move elsewhere. Perhaps the answers that the author does not like that style and would go elsewhere. To go back to the original example, there are some of us who like to potter in our cars at 50, and some of us thoroughly enjoy getting together with our mates on our Hogs and blast away at 90. Both do not enjoy the other style but neither has the right to say the other is invalid.

Walter Smith

commented on Aug 28, 2014

Joe, Joe, Joe.... Did you really read what you wrote? Really?? I have been preaching for 4 decades... pastored several marvelous fellowships- from PA to AL...with some tremendous people... I ALSO ride a motorcycle... a loud one at that...lol!!! however, I do not nor have I ever ridden down the interstate weaving in and out recklessly/ scaring the other drivers by driving irresponsibly... so how can someone legitimately lump all loud motorcyclists into one column to make an analogy in respect to all pastors?? hmmm.... me thinks 'thou dost protest to much', Dr Joe! Seems that YOU have a personal soap box that 'thou' is standing on! Rev David Griffin, you have made some excellent points....thank you! Dr Joe, I've enjoyed so many of your articles, but this one has slightly disappointed me. Your better than this. Love you and hope to meet you one day, but to say that our delivery could be 'foolishness'... really?? How about the 'foolishness of preaching'? What about the ADHD pastor/ evangelist... who GOD has called but who talk fast naturally because that is the way GOD made them... please note that delivery is critical and needs developed in the ministers calling--that's a given, but who is going to be the 'policeman' to say someone is preaching to fast? There are indeed some preaching styles that are not pleasing to me, yet others receive the message, learn and are discipled thru that particular style. Please Joe... in due respect... don't be a preaching policeman, enforcing your personal laws on my liberty to preach fast and with a passionate appeal! Your a 'Doctor'/ a 'cartoonist'... I don't want my doctor nor the cartoonist for the local paper diagnosing my physical well being. So please do not diagnose my style of preaching. Cause I might just have to drive my loud hog by your car window on the interstate someday, blaring my most recent podcast, so you can analyze my preaching cadence .... lol.... blessings brother! Let's fight the good fight of faith and not each other...

Tony Bland

commented on Aug 28, 2014

Dear Brother Smith, that you for saving me from writing a proper reply.

Johan Van Der Westhuysen

commented on Aug 28, 2014

Thanks for a good article. some of the writers must have a sore toe or completely missed the point

Joe Mckeever

commented on Aug 28, 2014

Can I say one thing more? Honestly, I'm okay with your disagreeing on this. But I find myself reading your comments--some of them really harsh--and thinking, "I hope you have the experience of writing something for your blog and suddenly having it displayed for 10,000 ministers of every denomination to read and react to, and see how you like the way they read sinister motives into everything you wrote and pick it apart. Such fun." (When that happens, I'll buy you a cup of coffee and we'll enjoy a good laugh. Until then, lighten up, guys! Thanks! I'm done.)

William Douglas Johnson, Sr

commented on Aug 28, 2014

Joe, as always, your article was with good food for thought and I appreciate your pointing out to us that we should be mindful of those in the congregation who need to follow what we are saying, or be lost in the process. Keep doing these, will you ?

Joe Mckeever

commented on Aug 29, 2014

Thank you, friend.

John Sears

commented on Aug 29, 2014

Joe, I enjoyed the article. Let me offer some encouragement. As a preacher, I know how easy it can be to get defensive about my craft so I understand some of the comments, but come on preachers! I did not see any hint in this article that we should preach without passion or power. Passion and power are often used as "preacher" excuses to assault and blast the congregation (like that motorcycle rider who blows by at 90 MPH) and it does just about as much good. I have a preacher friend who does this. Often, there is little truth in love, meekness (restrained power), or gentleness in this approach. His messages lack much encouragement and give little hope. I am not saying we should not call for repentance. Repentance from the pulpit can and should be called for, but it must be done with humility as a flawed and fallen vessel.

David Snapper

commented on Aug 29, 2014

Joe, I loved your little metaphor based on your driving experience. It was clever and useful and clear. Your list of eight "how to's" made your point clear enough. One way that pastors roar around on their metaphorical Harleys is when they make snap decisions. Snap judgments. Always right. Always telling, not taking time to listen. When that happens, pastors stop absorbing and processing important information. Everyone around them becomes afraid of the roar of the engine. Instead of listening, they become afraid of the noise. Thank you for the post. --I have a metaphor for you. A long time ago, Sam Maloof the famous furniture maker was criticized for a piece of furniture he displayed. He replied something like this: "Art is risky." Fine Woodworking ca 1979.

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