3 Startling Preaching Blunders Too Many Preachers Commit

Oct 05, 2022

If you preach with any level of frequency, what I know about you is you understand the weight of preaching. You know that the preaching moment is a time to steward and the last thing you want to do is make any mistakes that would lower the effectiveness of your sermons.

But having good intentions isn’t enough in preaching. Instead, to preach effectively requires intentional cultivation of your craft and your gifts.

Unfortunately, all too often, we commit startling yet avoidable blunders in our preaching—sometimes without even realizing it.

3 Startling Preaching Blunders Too Many Preachers Commit

1. Preaching in someone else’s voice

I’m a believer in the benefit of listening to gifted preachers to learn and grow in your preaching.

But for too many preachers, there is a sinister belief at work in their heart.

Somehow, along the way, you might have become convinced that because God seems to be using your favorite preachers in a mighty way and because many people respond well to their preaching, you need to preach like they do.

So as you listen to them and you allow this lie to invade your heart, you begin to sound like they do. Your cadence sounds like theirs. Your illustrations sound like theirs. Your insights sound like theirs. Your humor is delivered like their humor is delivered.

And before you know it, you’re a shadow version of your favorite preacher while the real you is sitting on the sidelines riding the bench.

But you don’t have to keep committing this blunder. 

You don’t have to keep giving yourself over to the fear that you don’t measure up.

You can trust that God created you to be you. Keep growing, of course. Despite what some would say, you’re not perfect just the way that you are. But God did create you uniquely.

So be yourself and trust God to war through your gifts and your personality instead of trying to be someone else.

And the result? You’ll preach with greater joy, freedom, and effectiveness.

2. Spending too much time on shallow application

One of the most neglected aspects of theology by preachers today isn’t Christology but Anthropology.

What do I mean by that? I mean that our sermons lack effectiveness because we don’t understand people deeply enough.

Many a preacher misses the mark because, though he knows books, he does not know men. – James Stalker

Much of the application I hear in sermons stays too shallow in order for it to pierce people’s hearts. 

Preachers tend to believe that if people would change their professed beliefs, their lives will change. But how many times have you been surprised by various things self-professing Christians do, say, and believe?

What they truly believe—deep down in their guts—probably hasn’t changed yet.

But here we are connecting dots in our sermon to beliefs and values, actions and lifestyle, and thinking that we have done our part.

But what if I told you that approach is too shallow?

Instead, write down the following statement and give it some thought:

A good preacher recognizes how to apply biblical truth to life. A great preacher recognizes the narrative of the text and how that confronts and corrects the multi-layered narratives that people live by and operate within.

That’s the deep place the Holy Spirit wants to invade in your people’s hearts. That’s where the gospel needs to get to. Because when things change there, things really change.

3. Failing to show the weight of what is at stake

If you want people to check out, believe in your own heart that what you’re preaching about doesn’t matter all too much.

Okay, that’s probably not going to be you. At least not very often.

But an approach that accomplishes the same thing goes like this:

Believe in your heart that what you’re preaching about is vitally important but don’t make it clear to your hearers why it’s so important.

Too often, we give people too much of a benefit of the doubt in this area.

We assume that since they’re at a church service, they are already convinced that responding to God in the way this particular passage calls them to is vitally important.

Instead, we must communicate the weight of what is at stake. 

  • What happens if we respond to God? What would that future look like?
  • What happens if we don’t respond to God? What would that future look like?

Answer those questions and express those answers to your people when you stand up to preach.

Two Things Coming Your Way

If you're committed to growing in your preaching, I want to let you know about a couple things that are coming your way very soon.

  1. This Friday, I will be releasing an article entitled, The Most Powerful Way to Preach: A Recipe for Transformation. I know that these last two articles have focused more on problems than solutions. I want to give you the recipe for transformational preaching. So don't miss Friday's article.
  2. Next Monday (October 10th) I have a special announcement. I'll be sharing this with the  Preach and Lead community via email. So if you don't receive emails from me, be sure to sign up. When you do, I'll send you my free 10-step guide to writing a sticky sermon. Don't miss the announcement

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