I preached my first sermon when I was 14 so that means technically I have been preaching for over 20 years! However, I didn’t start regularly preaching until I was 19, which means that I have about 16 year of preaching experience.
In those 16 years I’ve made my share of mistakes and hopefully I’ve learned from them. Tomorrow I’ll be preaching again and I was thinking about some of the things I’ve learned not to do in my sermons.
Below are my top 4 things that a preacher should never do while he is preaching!
Ask for more time
Unfortunately I’ve heard this a lot, when a preacher actually asks the audience if he can take another 10 or 15 mins. Generally the audience will say “yes” even if they are thinking “when is this guy going to finish?” My rule here is -If you have to ask for more time, that means you’ve already taken too much!
Avoid this mistake by finding out how much time you have before you get up to preach and then sticking to the time you have. It also helps to be aware of your audience, if half are falling asleep and the other half have whipped our their smart phones to check the latest news then you’d better wrap that sermon up!
Use someone’s mistake as an illustration
You should stay well clear of this blunder unless you’ve specifically received approval from the person who made the mistake and even then I’d think twice about it. Making it “anonymous” doesn’t always help either, our people are smart and someone might figure out who we were talking about. You’d be wise to avoid it all together.
Apologize for not preparing
There are two options here: If you really are not prepared to speak then DON’T SPEAK! However, if your preparation wasn’t done as well as you’d have liked but you still have something significant that you can share, then go ahead. The Holy Spirit can use us in our weakness. The problem with apologizing for what we are about to preach is that it gives the audience an excuse not to listen.
It is also highly disrespectful. It’s like telling your people “I don’t value you enough to prepare ahead of time and even though it will be a total waste of your time I expect you to respect me by listening to me go on about nothing for the next 40 mins.”
Try to “fill time”
I remember once my dad told me “When you’re finished preaching you should sit down.” That’s solid advice. Too many preachers feel like they need to “fill” the time. As a result they ruin what could have been a great sermon if they had simply sat down when they were really finished preaching.
Some of the best sermons I’ve heard have been in the 10-12 minute range. They hit their mark dead on and then got out of the way so that it could sink in!
Question: What would you add to the list? Are there other things that preachers should never do?