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preaching article Warning: Boring Preaching Can Be Deadly

Warning: Boring Preaching Can Be Deadly

based on 17 ratings
Aug 28, 2013

 Paul was an amazing Bible teacher: 

1. The guy studied under the Yoda of his day, Gamaliel.

2. Paul studied crazy hours and knew his Bible inside and out.

3. He wrote a big chunk of the New Testament.

4. You know you're an amazing Bible teacher when your sermons become Scripture!!

So you'd think with this résumé that Paul would be an engaging preacher, right?


Paul was boring. Which is fine … except when it leads to someone's death!

Seriously, did you know that dry preaching can be a health hazard?!

In Acts 20, Paul is waxing eloquently. And he waxes on and on and on. Apparently he forgot Mr. Miyagi's number one rule: "Wax on AND wax OFF!"

The message was dry and stuffy. A young guy, Eutychus, sat down by a window to get some fresh air. He needed to do something to keep his attention during the sermon!

First a yawn, then some daydreaming. Until finally, it happened: Paul's preaching was so boring, it put this teenager to sleep. 

And Eutychus fell out the window. Three stories. Straight down. Splat.

Now don't worry, the young guy came out OK. It helps to have an Apostle of the living God handy to heal you!

But we don't have that luxury in today's world. Listen, boring preachers can kill you! Don't believe me? Look around:

1. Are your teens so jacked-up excited about their church that they're texting and Facebooking their friends with massive invites to Sunday mornings?

2. Do you see young people knocking each other over at church to fill all the seats and create standing-room-only space?

3. Is there a movement of teenagers and young adults swamping the church's facilities, breathing new life and great hope into the future of your church?

No? Then maybe you're experiencing a Eutychus Moment. If the passion and engagement is missing in the message, the next generation will be missing in the pews!

Young people WILL mobilize behind something they believe in (just Google things like "Hunger Games" or "American Idol" if you don't believe me!). The problem is that no one will ever follow you down the street if you're carrying a banner that says, "Onward toward mediocrity."

The lesson from Paul is simple: you can have more degrees than fahrenheit, but if you're not preaching life, your church will LOSE life!! 

I don't know about you, but I'm ringing the three-alarm fire siren over the fact that the Body of Christ is hemorrhaging out young people! If we aren't fired up and passionately preaching life, we will continue seeing Eutychuses searching for life outside the church (which always leads to death).

Let's take heed, saddle up, and do whatever it takes to engage a generation with the promise and excitement of Jesus Christ!!

Jonathan Herron is the founding pastor of Life Church Michigan, a fresh, modern church for people who don’t like going to church.  His first book on using the rules of comedy in leadership is releasing nationwide soon.

Talk about it...

Clay Gentry avatar
Clay Gentry
0 days ago
This is one of the most insipid and lukewarm articles I've ever read. Jonathan you completely misrepresented Paul and the text to make you smirk little article. Just read the text for what it says, not what you want it to say. According to the God's word, Eutychus fell asleep, NOT because Paul was boring, but because it was late, there were many lamps in the room. This article is deadly, not because it will cause people to fall asleep, rather because it will cause them to disregard the Lord's apostle Paul. Friend you're article is no different than what the false teachers did in Corinth, Galatia, and everywhere else Paul went. They placed doubt in the minds of others about Paul. This article is a piece of eisegesis crap.
James Mcclintock avatar
James Mcclintock
0 days ago
Thanks for speaking my exact thoughts - as we continue to share the life-changing gospel among a tickling ear generation. What a terrible exposition of a text of Scripture. I truly want to reach the whole world but those who are reached will be through the life changing gospel message not a jacked-up preacher. There is nothing boring about Jesus or His Church if you really get it! Few listened to him either.
Chuck Sligh avatar
Chuck Sligh
0 days ago
I too think Jonathan Herron misunderstood the text, but I wouldn't put it on the level of false teaching! Let's get a grip here fellows! There was no false doctrine given, just a different thought about why Eutychus went to sleep. I'm sure he also believes in the power of the Gospel to change hearts. I saw nothing in the article in indicate otherwise. But his main point is well taken...preaching should never be boring! Our message is too wonderful and powerful and alive to allow to be obscured by a lackadaisical presentation, a lack of zealous presentation and an apathy for souls. Though I too disagree with his interpretation of the passage, I get his main point.
Jesse Smith avatar
Jesse Smith
0 days ago
Brother James I am in agreement with you and fellow-pulpiteers, it is a misinterpretation of the text. But I also believe there must be and balance in worship between the pulpit and the pew, in which the worship of God should be our main focus.Therefore I also believe that we as pulpiteers and as well as people in the pews can interfere with our worship that can cause an aloofness or boredom as well!
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
"This article is deadly...because it will cause them to disregard the Lord's apostle Paul." I agree with Chuck that some of the rhetoric posted so far is a bit over the top. There's no problem with disagreeing with an article, or simply just not liking the article. But let's keep things in perspective. Paul is not being disregarded in this article. No doubts about Paul are being placed on anyone's minds. The author simply believes that Paul was a boring preacher. And he may have been, we can't know for sure. But even if he was, that should not do anything to dismiss Paul's message or his apostolic ministry; and the author makes no attempt to do so.
Edwin Crozier avatar
Edwin Crozier
0 days ago
I don't know. When the article says this: "The lesson from Paul is simple: you can have more degrees than fahrenheit, but if you're not preaching life, your church will LOSE life!!" I can see why someone would say this article will cause someone to disregard the Lord's apostle Paul. Do we really want to say that if we preach like Paul we are not preaching life?
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
I see where you're coming from, and I agree that the author's use of Paul in the Euthycus story to illustrate his point was probably not a good idea. If nothing else, it has distracted most of this audience from an otherwise valid point. But what Chuck and I are saying is, let's keep this in perspective. If you read the entire article as a whole, it is CLEAR to anyone who reads objectively that the author is critiquing boring (i.e., lifeless) preaching, and NOT that he is critiquing Paul's overall apostolic ministry. At worst, he is guilty of sloppy writing, which unintentionally implies things he most likely does not believe. But who among us has never been guilty of sloppy writing? It happens all of the time, and it certainly does not warrant some of the over-the-top rhetoric that has been used against the author. As for causing someone "to disregard the Lord's apostle Paul," I seriously doubt that anyone who comes to this website will be caused to disregard Paul because of this article. From my time on this site, it's obvious that most on here have their minds already made up about most issues. I have yet to see anyone on here change their mind on anything as a result of reading an article. So I'm quite sure that if someone does not ALREADY disregard Paul, this article will not cause them to do so.
Jonathan Hughes avatar
Jonathan Hughes
0 days ago
Jimmy crickets man what is Deadly to the soul is refusing to be like Jesus is. It is so simple.
Tim Tallent avatar
Tim Tallent
0 days ago
Amen to Brother Gentry. According to the little bio at the bottom of the article, Mr. Herron has founded a "modern church for people who don't like going to church." Well, ok, what is a church? It's the Body of Christ--a called-out group of Jesus followers. So Mr. Herron has founded a Body of Christ--a called-out group of Jesus followers who don't like gathering with the Body of Christ and other called-out Jesus followers. This is oxy-moronic! A "church" for those who don't like gathering with the Body of Christ is not a Church. It's a gathering of people who are still of the flesh. Paul didn't sweat being boring...in fact, he said that his preaching was not according to the wisdom of man, but a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. So, dear preachers, be faithful to simply preach the Word after bathing yourself and your sermon in prayer. Those who are of the flesh will be bored. Those who are called by God will come. And it will be a real gathering of the Church.
Darnell Barry avatar
Darnell Barry
0 days ago
It seems we are being swamped with methodology to the extent we seem to think little about being Spirit filled when we enter the pulpit. If all we are thinking about prior to the message is, "What can I do to knock this thing out of the park?" "How many jokes should I tell to get the people to like me"? "How can I brag on myself, without appearing to?" "How many ears can I tickle so people will talk about my great message all week?" Paul nailed it when he warned....2Ti 4:1 "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." Our culture is obsessed with greatness, bigness, numbers, acceptance, popularity, ear tickling, un-offensive preaching. If we want a model to follow, don't look at the mega church across town, look at our Lord and study HIS sermons. Sorry to be so wordy, but this new fangled philosophy that says little about the preacher preaching the whole counsel of God, in the power of the Spirit of God, for the Glory of God, really gets me riled up. I don't believe any sermon will be boring if it is empowered by HIM.
Paul Hull avatar
Paul Hull
0 days ago
Jonathan, Had you made this an article about the dedication of a young man who so badly wanted to hear Paul that he came after work and stayed until midnight I would be more amenable to your proposition. Paul was so powerful in his speaking that this young man refused to leave, despite the fact that he was so tired he could no longer keep his eyes open. I would submit that had he a twitter account he would have been tweeting all his friends. Far from being a boring sermon from a boring speaker, after Eutychus was raised, Paul continued to speak until daybreak and no one left. You are right about boring preaching, but very wrong to try to twist this scripture into a knot that calls Paul's message boring.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
To be clear, I don't believe the author was saying that Paul's MESSAGE was boring, but rather that Paul personally was boring, at least on this one occasion. 2 Corinthians 10 suggests some of Paul's contemporary's may have felt the same: "For some say, 'His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.'" Neither this text nor the Euthycus story definitively prove that Paul was a boring preacher, although it does leave open the possibility that he may have been. But whether or not he was does not negate the overall message of the article: "you can have more degrees than fahrenheit, but if you're not preaching life, your church will LOSE life!!" I think that is a point we can all agree on.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
I think the article's overall point is valid, although I agree with those who argue that the author misused the story of Euthycus to make his point. To clarify, I agree with the argument, not some of the over-the-top (in my view) rhetoric that went along with the argument. Regardless, I find it very interesting that a couple of days ago, a video was posted of a round-table discussion featuring three conservative, Reformed pastors, one of whom made essentially the same point as this article: "You're not compromising when you communicate in average language to average people." And not one word of criticism was made. No one accused him of being a false teacher or of promoting that preachers tickle their people's ears. I wonder why that is?
Joseph Thomas avatar
Joseph Thomas
0 days ago
Jonathan: Having a pastored an inter-generational growing Church for 16 years (in N. America) let me suggest to you that to say that Preaching is the reason young people are leaving the Church is rather simplistic. May I suggest a more serious place for you to look into - the home as a bigger influence/reason for the exodus.
Jonathan Hughes avatar
Jonathan Hughes
0 days ago
Jimmy crickets man what is Deadly to the soul is refusing to be like Jesus is. It is so simple.
Richard Murray avatar
Richard Murray
0 days ago
This word we preach is Gods inspired word. It is eactly what God wanted to say in his word to mankind. I think we forget that sometimes. Lets not bring the word down to our level, let us rise as high as we can through this word. Let us be more respectful of God's word and read it with a more discerning eye and heart, not just for an idea for a byline or idea for a topic for a story. A more concerned heart for the people .of God, will lead to more appropriate titles and content than just trying to sensationalize a title for the sake of numbers God bless
Joel De Boer avatar
Joel De Boer
0 days ago
When a person interprets a text as poorly as Jonathan did all that can be said is no wonder he feels that it all rests upon the speaker and does not give any real sense of the Work the Holy Spirit is to do through the preaching. Yes the one who preaches needs to address real issues of the day; yes the one who preaches should use the art of communication to reach the heart of his or her hearers; however, let us not forget, that it is the Holy Spirit's work to take the words spoken and tweek the heart of the listeners. What Jon forgets a bit of is his history. Another John, Jonathan Edwards read his texts, his verbal address was almost monotone and yet the Holy Spirit worked through his "boring style" to reach thousands for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. What stands important is that we are called by God to do the best we can in interpretation, presentation, and conviction for life in the act of preaching. But we must never assume that it is all upon our shoulders to "keep the fire burning" because that is the work of the Holy Spirit. No wonder the power of Paul himself was directed by the Spirit to bring out these two points when he said, "Work our your salvation with fear and trembling" (as if it all depended upon us) but then rightfully connects, "for it is God who works in you to will and do" (because apart from God even our hot enthusiasm is nothing).
Alberto Zepeda avatar
Alberto Zepeda
0 days ago
I cannot see how any one arrives to the conclusion that Paul is a drag to listen to based on one narrative. I know I've put a few to sleep myself but I have not raised anyone from the dead yet people were rather ready to keep listening to Paul preach the good news. The young man's death and resurrection was not as captivating as Paul's sermon. Go figure. I bet if that happened in your averaged protestant church they tell the preacher to sit down and let revival begin. That is boring preaching!
Minister Sanders avatar
Minister Sanders
0 days ago
God's Word is never boring, especially when you pray on it and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you as God uses you to minister to his people according to the Scriptures. The problem is us. We can engage for 5 or 6 hours on worldly things such as the internet and rap concerts, but let someone preach and teach God's Word for over an hour, and we become disengaged, grumbling and murmuring Lord help us! In the midst of it all, we tend to forget just how good God has been to us! Just how many times we been through the fire, and Jesus not only walked with us through the fire, but he brought us out of the fire without 1 burn, and better than we was when we first went into it Hallelujah! We must get our youth to be engaged in God's Word or else they will be falling to their deaths physically, mentally, and spiritually God Bless!!!!
Daniel Israel avatar
Daniel Israel
0 days ago
See the context folks! Paul was staying at Troas only one day, and he had to teach them as much as he could. He knew that it was his last trip, and he would be arrested in Jerusalem. Also it was the first day of the week when they break bread with full meal. It takes time to cook, eat and fellowship. Paul had a lot to say, and he had very little time. Paul's preaching was not boring at all. As a matter of fact, almost everyone else was very engaged in Paul's preaching of exhortation. It was one young adult that was feeling sleepy and not all the young adults. Let's not change the preaching style because of one or two people in the congregation. Church activity is a family event, and all the mebers of the family should come together, and go home together. Lack of young adult participation depends upon the parenting. As long as we provide shelter and food for our young ones, they are under our authority, and we must insist on church attendance, and skipping church should never be an option. Even when we go on family vacation, we must make it a point to attend a local church! It is just a matter of training the young ones the way they must be raised up!

So, what did you think?

Thank you.