7 Preaching Walls You Might Crash Into

preaching May 17, 2024

It was a Monday. I was working from home. But instead of working, I was uncontrollably crying. I felt betrayed. I felt alone. I felt like a punching bag covered in patches of duct tape, struggling to take another hit.

In that season, it felt like the hits kept coming from people in the church. And, yet, six days later, I was going to have to stand up and preach the gospel (and somehow do so to people who had hurt me tremendously – even though most everyone had no idea).

I was crashing into preaching wall #4.

Every preacher I know has crashed into preaching walls.

What is a preaching wall? It’s a point in your preaching development and ministry that requires you to develop a new mindset, new tools, or new approaches to your preaching. It’s a form of resistance (sometimes pain, but not always) that can make you stronger and better if you move through it instead of avoiding it or giving up.

Once you see what these walls are, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Because you’ve likely already crashed into some.

Now, before I list them, let me say this…

If you’re up against a preaching wall, take heart: this is how you grow. You grow through going through the wall gradatim ferociter (step-by-step, ferociously).

7 Preaching Walls You Might Crash Into

1. The wall of ignorance.

This is the wall that shows up before you preach your first sermon (or first few sermons). I remember being at this wall.

The difficulty of crashing into this wall is you’re so green that you don’t even know where to begin when it comes to preaching. You struggle to even go to google for help because you’re not even sure what questions to ask.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to get around this wall. You’ve gotta go through it.

But I’ll tell you this: having a guide who has “been there, done that” and is willing to help? That’s a gift if you’re up against this wall.

2. The wall of frustration.

I came across this preaching wall after my first sermon.

A pastor emailed me a couple years ago and put language to what crashing into this wall feels like.

He said, it’s like I have Ferrari ideas, but when I try to put it all together and preach it, my Ferrari vision turns into a mini-car reality.

Um, yeah. That’s this wall in a nutshell. You want to preach your best so badly, but your skillset isn’t developed enough.

And for many preachers, moving through this wall can last for quite awhile. To go through it requires more preaching reps paired with a blend of grit, diligence, training, evaluation, and adjustment.

I remember moving through this wall clear as day. One day while I was preaching, it finally “clicked.” I had experienced a shift.

And that was after years of obsessing over the ins and outs, the nuances and intricacies of preaching while ALSO preparing and preaching sermons to a wall and into a microphone for a podcast because I wasn’t getting enough reps at the church I was serving at.

3. The wall of satisfaction.

If you’re not careful, this is the wall that many preachers have been crashing into for the majority of their time in ministry.

They grew through the wall of frustration and ever since, they’ve been satisfied with their level of preaching development, even though they haven’t come close to their potential.

Instead of fanning into flame the gift God has given them, they’ve just kept the embers alive.

Some preachers stay here because they don’t believe they can grow beyond where they are today.

They emphasize that God’s word won’t return void. And that's true. But at the same time, they diminish their role in the preaching task.

But moving through this wall? For some it’s reading a preaching book. For others, it’s going to a conference and being inspired by a skilled preacher. And for some, it’s receiving some criticism from someone they can’t dismiss.

Maybe you’re crashing into this wall. You’re satisfied with your level of preaching development. Moving through it is worth it. I promise.

4. The wall of ministry pain.

This is the ministry wall that has become the source of the pit in your stomach any time a congregant texts you or emails you with, “I’d like to talk to you. When can we meet?”

The truth is, church ministry can provide you with some of the lowest of lows while also providing you with some of life’s highest of highs. Sometimes in the same day.

If you’ve crashed into this wall, you know how difficult it can be. If you haven’t yet, it’ll come eventually.

And this impacts your preaching because it impacts your heart and soul.

It tests your willingness to forgive. It tests your coping mechanisms. It tests your ability to handle conflict in healthy ways instead of blowing up or cowering back.

Because on Sunday, you’ll be preaching on forgiveness or how we’re ‘better together’ (it never fails, it’s always something like this) and they’re going to be sitting in their normal spot in the room. And as you’re preaching, you’re going to be battling in your heart on whether or not you even believe what you’re proclaiming. Not because you doubt God. But because you’re hurting.

This is a thick wall. When you’re preaching to people in the church who have slandered you, insulted you, and betrayed you, you can get really discouraged. It’s the dark night of the soul.

And the only way to get on the other side is to go through it. To pray. To trust. To pursue Jesus. To pursue health. And to keep loving.

Can you tell that I’ve been through this wall before?

5. The wall of boredom.

Not everyone goes through this wall, but more than you’d think do.

You start losing your love for preaching. Not that you’d say it that way. But preaching becomes more of a burden than you’d like to admit.

You might have gotten jaded about whether or not people are even listening to you. Whether or not people even care to follow after the Lord – even though they call themselves Christians.

Or your well might have run dry. You’re not continuously learning and growing. You’re not interacting with ideas that excite you. You struggle to get excited about the next sermon series. Or, you’re struggling to even come up with ideas on what to preach.

Or, you might not have a reason for your boredom. It just kind of happened.

But you don’t have to stay crashing into this wall. Maybe your passion for preaching is gone. Maybe. What could also be the case is you need to re-ignite your preaching by learning something new, developing a plan for development, and getting back into some healthy habits.

Because, odds are, if you’re hitting this wall, preaching isn’t the only thing suffering.

6. The wall of exhaustion.

When you’ve been at it for a long time and you’ve got too much on your plate, you might find yourself crashing into this wall.

Some call it burn out. Exhaustion. No matter what you call it, the basic feature of this wall is it blocks you from seeing a future that gets any better.

You feel stuck. You feel trapped. You feel hopeless that anything is or even can change.

Now, moving through this wall often doesn’t happen without the help of other leaders. It often doesn’t happen without the help of the leadership team you serve alongside of. And it could also require the help of a counselor or spiritual director.

And that’s why this wall can be so difficult to move through. Many of us like to be the helper, not the one asking for help.

But leaning in, learning new skills and mindsets and practices, is completely worth it. Modifying your responsibilities and lessening your load is completely worth it. Developing and living by a rule of life is… completely worth it.

7. The wall of mastery.

You may never move completely through this wall.

But if you’re crashing into it?

It’s because you’ve come to the realization that you’re never done growing.

It’s because your spiritual life is healthy. It’s because your home life is healthy. It’s because your leadership team is equipped and serving as partners in the ministry of the gospel.

And it’s because you have fought for joy. And are living in it more than you’re not.

You’re a perpetual student of your craft. AND you’ve begun investing in other preachers around you.

You’re digging into the nuances of communication. You’re a student of the human experience, the human soul, storytelling, of humor, of theology, and of what makes compelling ideas, compelling. And you’re also someone who sees the lies of today’s culture and wants to combat those lies with the truths of God’s word.

If you’re crashing into this wall, joyfully keep moving through it.

And then, please, help other preachers move through these walls.

Moving Through Preaching Walls

If you’d like to move through the preaching wall you’re crashing into, you’re the person I made Sticky Sermons Academy for.

Whether you’re a new/aspiring preacher, a struggling preacher, or a veteran preacher, it will help you develop your preaching craft tremendously.

Click here to learn more and enroll.

Because if you're crashing into:

  1. The wall of ignorance, you need to know how to prepare and write your first (or first few sermons).
  2. The wall of frustration, you need a clear path to developing your preaching craft.
  3. The wall of satisfaction, you need a vision of new possibilities when it comes to your preaching development.
  4. The wall of ministry pain, you need a God-sized why and a solid personal preaching manifesto to keep you going when ministry gets difficult.
  5. The wall of boredom, you need a fresh way to approach every aspect of preaching that will spark passion in you again.
  6. The wall of exhaustion, you need to ask people around you for help AND THEN, you need a better preparation process and a system that allows you create more margin in your ministry and life (like getting a week+ ahead in your sermon prep).
  7. The wall of mastery, you need to dig into the nuances of how to preach to people's hearts and how to master the ins and outs of communication.

And this is exactly what I'll help you do in Sticky Sermons Academy.

Click here to jump in. Enrollment is only open for a limited time.

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