Preaching Articles

One of the greatest temptations of preachers is the unrelated point. It seems that preachers often want to add in asides while preaching their sermons. You know when preachers are on a topic and something immediately comes to mind. Instead of evaluating whether the point is relevant to the topic at hand, the preacher simply determines if the added content is true. If it is true, they present it.

I remember during Sunday school hearing a member make a powerful point. The pastor noted the power in the point. Then during the sermon, the pastor shoehorned the idea into the sermon where it had no place.

The problem with such asides is that people lose the main point you are trying to make. Sometimes, in extreme cases, even the preacher can lose the point of the sermon. And then the sermon can go on without any real destination. The preacher simply jumps from one true but not necessarily connected point to another true but not necessarily connected point.

The people may holler, but the end is a confusing amalgamation of unrelated points that is incorrectly called a sermon. Such sermons put a lot of stress on the people as their mind tries to make a whole point out of the diverse unrelated points.

I had a pastor who did this very often. The people often shouted at his sermons, but they had difficulty telling you what the sermon was about. The answer is to make sure that you have one point and that everything you preach contributes to the understanding, experiencing and application of that point.

What you want to present may be true, but if it is not relevant to THIS sermon, then let it go and preach that fact in a later sermon when it is relevant.

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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Duane Coller

commented on Feb 26, 2013

Your comments are well taken. And while the point should be obvious, it is obvious to anyone who has heard many preachers that it needs to be made and heeded. Also, I briefly looked at your website and look forward to going back and spending more time. I like the things you address there, and think we can all learn from each other, whatever our color or ethnicity is. Personally, I enjoy the variety of styles and sometimes am more engaged in listening to a preacher simply because his style is different than the one to which I have become accustomed.

David Buffaloe

commented on Feb 26, 2013

If the Spirit leads, follow

Clarence Bolton

commented on Feb 26, 2013

David - don't forget that God likes order. I have heard too many preachers say they were following the Spirit and went all over the place - got a shout - but left the people empty. Stay with the point and with the text.

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Feb 26, 2013

Sherman, as usual, a good reminder!

Richardson Parnandi

commented on Feb 26, 2013

It is TRUE- Follow the notes you make and avoid this mistake and don't ever say that the Holy Spirit lead you to say that. I totally agree that our Lord is orderly and plans that His Word will not return to him void but bring many souls to His kingdom, not confuse the hearers

Bill Williams

commented on Feb 26, 2013

@Richardson, I recognize that adding in "asides" in a sermon can be taken to a level that detracts from the main point. And surely confusing the hearers does no one any good. But to write, "don't ever say that the Holy Spirit lead you to say" something--how do you KNOW that the Holy Spirit DIDN'T lead someone to say something? Maybe the Holy Spirit did lead the person. Then again, maybe he didn't. But the point is, why limit the intentions of the Holy Spirit to what makes sense to me? Why make it a decree that the Holy Spirit will NEVER lead someone to go outside of their notes. To me, that just seems like going from one extreme to the opposite one. Yes, God is a God of order. But he is also a God that desires us to walk by faith. Which means he will not always "preplan" everything for us. Sometimes he will lead us to take a detour without telling us ahead of time. At least, that has been my experience as I've followed Christ my whole life. Some of the moments in my life when I've most learned to trust in him are the moments when I had to leave behind my own plans, and follow him to "a land he would tell me of."

Mike Brenneman

commented on Feb 26, 2013

The apostle Paul addresses this concept 1 Cor 14:32-33 32 "and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." Certainly if a great idea pops into mind that is pertinent, use it. Most of us have probably experienced successes and failures by adding something on the fly. Overall it seems wise to use self control and avoid confusion. Well done, Sherman

Bala Samson

commented on Feb 27, 2013

Wonderful insights! At times, God may pop up a thought, if it is from the 'Lord' then He would certainly empower the preacher to stay in tune with the message and enrich the congregation with the revelation.

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