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We all have blind spots in the pulpit. We all have a tendency to migrate to a few themes. I critically listened to a preacher the other day. This is one whom I had heard on many occasions. It was interesting how his sermons address only a few themes. And his celebrations to his sermons are essentially all exactly the same. The preacher either preached about God helping us to overcome obstacles, or the limits that our enemies will face when confronted by God on our behalf, or God’s comforting us in our pain.

These are very important themes, but they are by no means the only themes. What about God’s forgiveness for our sins? What about God’s power to help us live right? What about our responsibility to live for God and others? What about end time events or simply justification by faith? Simply put, the preaching diet given to this congregation was lacking in many important vitamins and minerals needed to grow into the full stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

And so, yes, the preacher was missing some important themes that needed addressing in his sermons. These were blind spots. What can the preacher do to ensure that he or she is addressing the needs of the congregation, and not just their wants or the preacher's desires?

Well, first the preacher can construct a sermonic plan where he or she attempts to ascertain the needs of the congregation and address those needs. It can be an eye opening experience for the preacher to study a congregation to see what is needed. This can help both the preacher and the congregation to grow as the preacher finds the real needs, and not just what he or she thought the needs were.

Next, the preacher can attempt to address a wide variety of scripture types. If the preacher is used to preaching narratives, why not try a letter? If the preacher is used to preaching the New Testament, why not throw in an Old Testament portion of scripture? Throw in a wide variety of scripture types to force you to address things you may not normally address.

Start a devotional reading program in which you read the whole Bible. Many preachers say they need to do this, but few do. Read the Bible, all of it! As you read more and more of the Bible, you will become acquainted with parts of the scripture that you normally don’t address.

Certainly there are other things you can do to help get rid of your blind spots, but these three things can help to open your eyes to other possibilities that will expand your repertoire and help your people at the same time.

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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Anthony R. Watson

commented on Jun 14, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this insightful article. Listening to God during the sermon preparation period, and being guided by the Holy Spirit's anointing is very important as well. Be blessed.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 14, 2012

I grow increasingly amazed that whenever this topic is discussed here, the most obvious solution is never even mentioned in passing! Namely, allowing others in the congregation, even those who are not seminary-trained "professionals", who have been gifted by God and trained by the pastors to share in the preaching ministry. I'm not talking about every now and then, when the pastor is sick or on vacation. I'm talking about a team of pastors, elders, and gifted lay-people who regularly share the preaching ministry. Mr. Cox's suggestions are very valuable, and we would do well take them seriously. Still, "the preaching diet given to [a] congregation [will continue to lack] in many important vitamins and minerals needed to grow into the full stature of Christ" as long as the preaching in a congregation is being done primarily by one person. No matter how hard an individual preacher may work to avoid blind spots in their preaching, the word of God is much too large to be limited to the perspective of only one person!

Keith B

commented on Jun 14, 2012

@Fernando.....Honestly, one of the scariest things for a pastor, I think, is to let someone else into the pulpit. A pastor is a pastor because he feels calls to shepherd the flock. I don't want to have to worry about someone else teaching wrong theology. Having said that...if you have a good team of people you can trust, it might not be a bad idea to let someone else share in it...but I still think the pastor should be the main preacher.

Anthony Luckett

commented on Jun 14, 2012

Great article. Definitely something to think about and apply to our preaching.

Robert Sickler

commented on Jun 14, 2012

Good article and one we all need to consider.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Jun 14, 2012

kb, exactly. 90 of the time I've let someone into my pulpit and was there to listen, I've wished I hadn't.

Rick Ramsey

commented on Jun 14, 2012

I appreciate the notion that we can have blind spots in our preaching. I think one way in which we can help protect against that is preaching expositorally through differant books of the bible. I just preached on Hell this passed Sunday. Not because I enjoyed it, I didn't and not becuase I felt the need to but because it was the next text in the book. As for letting other people preach if they are God called preachers then let them preach but if they are laymen don't ask them to do what God has called you and equipped you as a Pastor to do.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 14, 2012

k b, hey, I hear you. It IS scary to let someone else into the pulpit. I can't speak for every pastor, obviously, but I've got some observations that I feel God has placed in my heart as I've wrestled with this issue. First, of all, I need to be reminding myself constantly that it is not MY pulpit; it is God's, and he has the right to call whomever he pleases to the pulpit. Which includes lay-people, by the way, in response to Rick Ramsey's comment. Our calling as pastors and teachers is NOT to be the primary preacher in our congregation; there is no biblical evidence to support such a claim. Our calling is to EQUIP the saints for the work of ministry, which includes, I believe, the preaching ministry. That is why I specified that these preachers should be called by God and trained by the pastors. If we've had bad experiences with inviting others to preach to our congregation, it is not because the idea is bad; rather it is because either we have not correctly discerned whom God has called to share in this ministry, or we have failed to train those people properly. The other thing God has convicted me about is that this fear I have about "letting others into the pulpit" is basically an issue of control. Am I going to try to control how the Holy Spirit moves in my congregation, or am I going to trust that God is in control? You mentioned worrying about someone preaching wrong theology. The reality is that even those of us who are seminary-trained are not immune from preaching wrong theology, either! Education and training is wonderful, but we cannot let those things distract us from learning to trust fully in the Holy Spirit. Now, you mentioned that "I still think the pastor should be the main preacher." Well, you know your congregation better than I do, so only you and your church can decide if that's the case in your circumstances. Perhaps there are congregations where that is the best choice. But Biblically, I suspect such congregations should be the exception, rather than the rule. The view that one pastor should be the main preacher makes sense in terms of tradition and pragmatics; but Biblically, such a view leaves much to be desired. Joel prophesied of a time when the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, and young and old, as well as men and women, would prophesy. Peter proclaimed that this prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost. We are living in the days when the Spirit is being poured out on all flesh, and I suspect that there are so many more people sitting in our congregations, called by God to preach, simply waiting for us as pastors and teachers to learn how to discern the ways in which God is working so that we can get on with our job of training them. Anyway, like I said, those are the thoughts and Scriptures I've been wrestling with, for what it's worth. In the end, each pastor has to wrestle with this issue for themselves. I simply encourage all of us, however, to make these decision not based on fear or previous bad experiences, but rather on the whole of Scripture. May God bless you richly in your ministry!

Joel Rutherford

commented on Jun 14, 2012

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Joel Rutherford

commented on Jun 14, 2012

Your Comments

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Jun 15, 2012

A practical article...all in the Spirit of James, writing his wonderful epistle. Oh yes, there is a Biblical mandate itself to preach the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Ideally a sermon should encapsulate all the three cardinal doctrines of Christianity...Justification, Sanctification and Glorification approaching the same, as it were, every week from "different angles" to avoid monotony from setting in.

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Jun 15, 2012

A practical article...all in the Spirit of James, writing his wonderful epistle. Oh yes, there is a Biblical mandate itself to preach the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Ideally a sermon should encapsulate all the three cardinal doctrines of Christianity...Justification, Sanctification and Glorification approaching the same, as it were, every week from "different angles" to avoid monotony from setting in.

Charles Ingwe

commented on Jun 15, 2012

RAm really blessed by the case of pulpit blind spots. I only wish to state that with due respect to Cox uplifting advice, it is as well imperative to always remain humble to the desire of crying for the leading of God's spirit. In Phil 3:1, Paul stated that it was no trouble for him to write AGAIN the same sermon to them for it was to serve as a safe guard. Man forgets easily and thus one of the most important words in the bible is " REMEMBER". God used it so many times in the word for man forgets easily. Therefore, I trust if we remain in tune with the holy spirit and study of the word, He will build His church and not us. Over inviting those to preach from our church pulpits, I have been blessed by the much already stated. I only wish to humbly state that as much as I as senior pastor must guide the church, I am senior to the church but under sheperd to the one who has called me. Whilst Christ's disciples called Him master he made it clear to them that he was not free do anything outside His Father's will. Meaning that being senior pastor does not make me free of my Lord's will for the Church I pastor. To me this means that my sermon planning for the church must be in line with God's will. If He says I will preach through out the year I shall do so. If He says He has given a word to my sunday school teacher to share I shall obey. To me I think the trouble is always on whether we do agree that to this day God does speak to us. As much as we have agreed that He does I have always noted that it has not been with fuller agreement. This has been due to false prophecy having taken place in our midst so many want to outrightly do away with God speaking in our age and just settling for the fact that we just stick to the written word. At that stage then only the pastor will speak through out. Yet I do believe that if we develop a deeper relationship with our Father in Prayer and word we shall find Him guiding us with impressions so amazing to explain. Your friend and brother Rev. Charles Ingwe

Charles Ingwe

commented on Jun 15, 2012

RAm really blessed by the case of pulpit blind spots. I only wish to state that with due respect to Cox uplifting advice, it is as well imperative to always remain humble to the desire of crying for the leading of God's spirit. In Phil 3:1, Paul stated that it was no trouble for him to write AGAIN the same sermon to them for it was to serve as a safe guard. Man forgets easily and thus one of the most important words in the bible is " REMEMBER". God used it so many times in the word for man forgets easily. Therefore, I trust if we remain in tune with the holy spirit and study of the word, He will build His church and not us. Over inviting those to preach from our church pulpits, I have been blessed by the much already stated. I only wish to humbly state that as much as I as senior pastor must guide the church, I am senior to the church but under sheperd to the one who has called me. Whilst Christ's disciples called Him master he made it clear to them that he was not free do anything outside His Father's will. Meaning that being senior pastor does not make me free of my Lord's will for the Church I pastor. To me this means that my sermon planning for the church must be in line with God's will. If He says I will preach through out the year I shall do so. If He says He has given a word to my sunday school teacher to share I shall obey. To me I think the trouble is always on whether we do agree that to this day God does speak to us. As much as we have agreed that He does I have always noted that it has not been with fuller agreement. This has been due to false prophecy having taken place in our midst so many want to outrightly do away with God speaking in our age and just settling for the fact that we just stick to the written word. At that stage then only the pastor will speak through out. Yet I do believe that if we develop a deeper relationship with our Father in Prayer and word we shall find Him guiding us with impressions so amazing to explain. Your friend and brother Rev. Charles Ingwe

Charles Ingwe

commented on Jun 15, 2012

RAm really blessed by the case of pulpit blind spots. I only wish to state that with due respect to Cox uplifting advice, it is as well imperative to always remain humble to the desire of crying for the leading of God's spirit. In Phil 3:1, Paul stated that it was no trouble for him to write AGAIN the same sermon to them for it was to serve as a safe guard. Man forgets easily and thus one of the most important words in the bible is " REMEMBER". God used it so many times in the word for man forgets easily. Therefore, I trust if we remain in tune with the holy spirit and study of the word, He will build His church and not us. Over inviting those to preach from our church pulpits, I have been blessed by the much already stated. I only wish to humbly state that as much as I as senior pastor must guide the church, I am senior to the church but under sheperd to the one who has called me. Whilst Christ's disciples called Him master he made it clear to them that he was not free do anything outside His Father's will. Meaning that being senior pastor does not make me free of my Lord's will for the Church I pastor. To me this means that my sermon planning for the church must be in line with God's will. If He says I will preach through out the year I shall do so. If He says He has given a word to my sunday school teacher to share I shall obey. To me I think the trouble is always on whether we do agree that to this day God does speak to us. As much as we have agreed that He does I have always noted that it has not been with fuller agreement. This has been due to false prophecy having taken place in our midst so many want to outrightly do away with God speaking in our age and just settling for the fact that we just stick to the written word. At that stage then only the pastor will speak through out. Yet I do believe that if we develop a deeper relationship with our Father in Prayer and word we shall find Him guiding us with impressions so amazing to explain. Your friend and brother Rev. Charles Ingwe

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