Preaching Articles

Everyone needs encouragement.  We need it as preachers.  So we shouldn’t be surprised if our listeners do, too!  And yet, strangely, something that everyone needs, and everyone acknowledges is needed, seems to be strangely absent in a significant amount of preaching.  Let me encourage you to encourage people as you preach.

Don’t think exhortation is encouragement. 

There is a need for exhortation, but people need to be encouraged, too.  Exhorting involves persuasion and a hint of rebuke, but encouragement injects hope, confidence and life.

Don’t think guilt is encouragement.  

To put it simply, it is not.  Guilting people into conformity is a shortcut that may yield results, but it will be short-lived and counter-productive.  Allow guilt to come by the conviction of the Spirit, but don’t add guilt where guilt is not the issue—that is a form of legalism.

Don’t think that enthusiasm is encouragement.  

Your enthusiasm may be contagious, but people may sit impressed by your passion, yet not feel encouraged in their own.  Think through how to invest rather than simply demonstrate enthusiasm in your preaching.

There are other things we may offer and think we are being encouraging.  But consider both your passage and your listeners: how can this be preached in a way that will encourage them?  Robinson talks about the need for ten encouraging messages for every one rebuke.  It is so counterproductive when we get that ratio reversed.  Be encouraged as you read the Word, and look to share that encouragement as encouragement!

Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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John Beverly

commented on Jul 23, 2011

The author wants us to encourage our congregation by telling us what not to do and leaves no advice on how to do it correctly. I felt the article contradicts itself and wasn't very encouraging.

Michael Morton

commented on Jul 23, 2011

I thought this was a very good article. To often we preach on a particular sin and beat up on people leaving them feeling guilty. I think a much better approach is telling people what a joy it is to live in Jesus Christ.

John Martin

commented on Jul 23, 2011

The topic is certainly an important one ffor at least two important reasons. The writer of Hebrews encourages us all, and I suppose this includes preachers, to spur one another on and encourage one another in Heb 10:24-25. But my own perspective is that of a school teacher who has found in practice that encouraging learners is the key to effective learning. I comment because I am troubled by so much preaching that fails to recognize that the outcome of of good learning is essential. In fact, it is only by testing the learning that you can evaluate your preaching. No learning - no effective preaching. If you encourage your listeners you promote your teaching.

Martin Baariu Muriuki

commented on Jul 25, 2011

The author has some point. During this period of so many distructing forces and satan seeming to reign supreme through media, politics, even some congreggations, economies and almost everywhere, hope is the most soothing word that everyone wants to hear. However just like in Jesus times, opression and perverse behavior was still rife! He did not mince his words about people repenting or perishing! For all I know, Christ was hitting the immoral society with no qualms.Therefore without glossing over the sins,LET US TELL THEM THE TRUTH...REPENT OR PERISH.

Mike Brenneman

commented on Mar 31, 2020

So true, Peter. It took me too many years, I'm ashamed to say, to learn that encouraging is far more powerful than scolding, reproving, and focusing on all the faults that a congregation has. There is a time for every style of correction, 2 Tim 3:16. But years of experience have taught me, what the scriptures teach: Treat people with honor and gentleness. Appeal to them when you are teaching the God's word and you will be more effective. Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock conducted a profound study and discovered that praise gets better results than criticism. Again, I'm acknowledging there is an appropriate time for every type of teaching and correction, but in the long run, encouragement is the best. I would like to hear more on this subject from Peter.

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