7 Enemies That Destroy Your Sermon’s Effectiveness

preaching Nov 16, 2023

When you stand up to preach, there are plenty of enemies lining up who want to destroy your sermon’s effectiveness.

Satan and his demons don’t want your sermon to cut to people’s hearts. 

If we’re not careful, we can unintentionally add a few more enemies to the battlefield. Ones that we deployed.

In this article, I’m going to break down the 7 enemies that destroy your sermon’s effectiveness.

7 Enemies That Destroy Your Sermon’s Effectiveness


What’s a cliché? It’s a phrase that has been overused and by its very nature, loses its effect on people. They’ve heard it so many times and in so many contexts, that it lacks power in people’s minds and hearts. And what results? 

Your people will interpret your sermon as dull.

You’ll come across as not being thoughtful. 

People don’t need recycled clichés. They need truth that pierces their hearts. 


Generalities in preaching are lazy and ineffective. Like the use of clichés, general truths lack power. 

It’s one thing to say, “as a Christian, you are called the light of the world, the salt of the earth.” That’s good. After all, it’s what Jesus said. But what if you dug deeper and helped people apply this text on Monday? 

You could push past the general re-statement of what Jesus said and say, “when you’re at work, you’re not just at work. You’re in the middle of a mission field where you have been placed to be a Christ-like example to your coworkers. When you’re at school… When you’re at home… When you’re at the store… you’re in the middle of a mission field where you have been placed to be a Christ-like example to your coworkers.”

Generalities don’t pastor people well. 

They also don’t preach well. 

If you want an effective sermon, push through the general truths and help your people see all the implications of the text on their lives.

Straw Man Arguments

Straw man arguments are easy as preachers. They’re often deployed in ways that misrepresent the people or groups that your congregation largely already disagrees with. It’s easy. 

But it’s not effective. 

Especially when you are ‘addressing culture’ and speaking on the ‘hot topics’ of the day, it’s important to steel man arguments. Because when you steel man the argument and then you’re still able to show God’s perspective that addresses the topic, it strengthens the case you’re making. 

Poor Structure

A poor structure in the pulpit makes for confusion in the pew.  

Instead of getting on the sermonic bus and enjoying the journey to a specific destination, your people can’t figure out if you’re taking them to the Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean because the truth is, you haven’t decided either.

If there’s one thing that most preachers can improve upon that would have an exponential impact on their sermon’s effectiveness, it’s structure.

That’s why I talk about it so much.

Too Little Illustrations

Sermon illustrations are more than comedy relief or intellectual breaks before we get back to the meat of the message.

Illustrations are powerful tools to help you teach the text and create new connections in your people’s hearts, minds, and souls. 

So when a sermon is light on illustrations, it’s a major mistake. 

Illustrations are like telescopes. They help people see big-picture truths close up.

Illustrations are like prescription glasses. They help people see the truth more clearly.

But a sermon without many illustrations is like a car without much fuel. It won’t move much.

Consider using more sermon illustrations.

Not Enough Tension

If you want people to pay no attention, utilize less tension.

After all, identifying and pulling at tension makes your people desire a resolution. And that resolution? That helps them pay attention and see the resolution embedded in the text. 

Tension might mean letting the Bible speak and not explaining it all the way, right away. Instead, when you read Jesus talking about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, let that sit some and point out that it makes you uncomfortable too. Then, teach them.

Tension might mean you point out the difficulty of applying this text in our lives. 

It might mean you point out the beliefs we often hold near and dear to our hearts that make this passage a worthwhile consideration for ignoring.

Tension is always about getting after the desperately urgent matter that your sermon is calling people to respond to.

Lack of Dynamics in Delivery

Sermon delivery is an art. It’s a beautiful thing when done with the four-chords of joy, passion, fire, and love. 

But when a sermon lacks in sermon delivery dynamics, it can make even the best sermon content get lost in transit.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to sermon delivery. A preacher can be distracting in their delivery for many reasons:

  • Pacing on stage
  • Filler words
  • Body language ticks (i.e. touching their face or desperately trying to get that hand back in their pocket after a moment of animation)
  • Monotone voice
  • Eye contact avoidance
  • Lack of emotion
  • Too much emotion
  • Staring at their notes
  • Lack of cadence variation

 I could go on, but you get the idea. 

Sermon delivery is an art. It’s as much about your presence as it is about the words you speak. 

Preaching is… A lot

As you can see (not that you needed me to remind you), preaching is a lot. Especially if you want to do it well.

If you’re serious about cultivating this gift, it will be a life-long endeavor of continual improvement.

And that’s why I’m so excited to share something with you next week that has been stewing in my heart for years. Something that will help you preach memorable AND biblical sermons more effectively.

But for now…

Grow Your Preaching

If you want to be faithful to the text, prepare efficiently, and craft your sermon memorably, I’ve got just the thing to help. It’s called the 10-step guide to writing a sticky sermon and it’s yours for free. Just click here to grab your copy.

Write sermons that stick!

Learn the 10-step process to crafting and writing a memorable, transformational sermon. Download this free guide today.

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