Top 10 Mistakes Preachers Make in Sermon Preparation

preaching Mar 20, 2023

Sunday has a tendency show up quickly. Your sermon preparation can either set you up well for when Sunday rolls around or hinder you tremendously. 

How you spend your time Monday through Saturday greatly influences the sermon you preach on Sunday. You and I know this from experience. 

But if you want to improve your sermon prep, it’s important to first diagnose what is hindering it. 

Top 10 Mistakes Preachers Make in Sermon Preparation

1. Wait until the end of the week to begin.

Warning: sarcasm loading...

I get it. There’s a lot to do. That’s true if you’re pastoring full-time or serving bi-vocationally. But hey, if you’re looking for a surefire way to prepare many subpar sermons, this is an atomic habit to implement. 

2. Jump directly into commentaries.

Why waste time working through the text on your own? You know, laboring through it. Looking at the original language. Taking extensive notes as you sense the Spirit nudge you and guide you. Why do that when it’s far easier (and more efficient) to simply crack open those commentaries and see what the scholars have to say? Better yet, read those commentaries and then watch a handful of sermons on the text.

3. Look at too many commentaries.

You want your sermon to sound like a scholarly exegetical lecture anyway. That’s what your people need too. Not a pastoral and prophetic word from the Lord but a scientific dissection of the text so they can impress their friends with their new Greek or Hebrew lessons. 

4. Exegete the text without letting the text exegete you.

If you ever desire to preach transformationally, be sure to avoid opening yourself up to being transformed by God’s word yourself. This passage is for the people, not necessarily you. Oo Lord, he really needs to hear this. Yes, God, I hope she listens to this part. After all, you’re the preacher and you’ve got the answers. And let’s get honest, even if the Lord has done a work in this area of your life, you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing it with your people anyway.

5. Exegete the text without exegeting your people.

That’s a lot of work anyway. Who has time for that? You’d have to spend time with people. Listen to them. Observe them. You’d have to be connected to them in order to really discover what’s going on below the surface of their lives.

6. Spend the vast majority of your time on the truth of the text.

How blasphemous can you get, Brandon?! Of course, you’ve gotta spend the majority of your time here. People need the truth! They don’t need illustrations (maybe just one). They don’t need application (they can do that on their own). They just need to know what the text says and what it means. They don’t need any urgency infused into their soul. They need insight and I’ve got plenty of it from all those commentaries I read and sermons I watched!

7. Spend little to no time on how to communicate the truth of the text.

If you bring up how Jesus taught primarily through stories, metaphors, and similes one more time, I’m going to scream. Thinking through illustrations takes too much time. These people just need to receive the word. I shouldn’t need to tap into poetry, just prose. Leave me alone!

8. Prep toward only people’s intellect.

People don’t need to worry about their feelings. They need more insight. After all, if they had more insight, they would be able to rightly order their feelings. And no, stop trying to tell me that “if you preach to their heart, you’ll also grab their mind.” Everyone knows that people make rational decisions. 

9. Prep toward only people’s feelings.

Who needs doctrine and theology anyway? And truth… what is truth? You’ve got your truth. I’ve got my truth. *Pardon me while I puke.* The pulpit is no place to confront people with objective realities. It’s too triggering to people. The church should be a safe space where no one is confronted with their own depravity. After all, no one’s perfect. 

10. Start writing without first organizing.

Ask any good contractor. You don’t really need a blueprint in order to begin building a structure. You’ll figure it out along the way. 

Two Final Things

First... Next week, The Craft of Biblical Preaching course enrollment is opening. If you want to preach biblical sermons that pierce people's hearts, be sure to enroll.

Second... In the meantime, 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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