Skip to content

Trying to Fix Bad Preaching

May 25, 2007

We all know bad preaching. We all have been the victim of dry boring information dumps masquerading as exegetical sermons. They clutter the mind with theological facts not connected to life and the human condition. The usual response to these bland theology readings is, “Wow. Amen. That’s great. I never knew that. What’s for lunch?”

We have also witnessed fervent oratory spectacles filled with religious jargon that try to impersonate Spirit empowered preaching. These performances are mere cross-referencing with passion, but they sure make an hour fly by and people feel good afterward.

Other speechifying offenses are committed regularly on Sunday mornings. Shallow preaching is dished up by those who have not had proper training in doctrine and biblical exposition, or they are lazy. They dispense spiritual baby food. Their name is legion.

In other sermons you will look in vain for any kind of main point, sub points, supporting structure, organization, direction, purpose or even a remote idea of what all this religious talk is about.

There are also those who should have never tried to preach in the first place, but they taught Sunday school once and that old lady in church who tells everyone how much their message touched her said that to this guy too. Unfortunately, he interpreted this to mean, “you are a gifted preacher” so he went to seminary, graduated and is now killing a church trying to be what God never called him to be.

Other preachers are too focused on the human element, the conversation between the preacher and the congregation, and their personality and human effort get in the way of the word of God. Some of these preachers are very good communicators, but their ability to communicate is mistaken for preaching.

Some preachers are sniveling yes-men, preaching for the approval of men, trying to please people by subtracting from or adding to the truth in order to make it more acceptable. Preaching is a job to these hirelings and the church is their employer telling them what to do.

Others try to preach comprehensive and deep sermons like Jonathan Edwards or Martin Lloyd-Jones and so they ramble on way too long. They are in over their heads and the church is not with them. Often they are novices thinking they are passing on the deep things of God. Sometimes they have been preaching for decades and they think they have grown in their ability to preach. They need to be told they are not Jonathan Edwards or Martin Lloyd-Jones.

A common error made by egg-head brainiacks with no personality who went to good seminaries is the 60 minute exegetical word study. Dispensing correct biblical content in the correct form of a sermon is not preaching. Some of these guys have earned a D.Min. in expository preaching. Something should be done about this.

And on, and on, and on.

The remedies for these crimes are as numerous as the offenses. In bible college and seminary, or through trial and error for those without training, would-be preachers become acquainted with the different elements of sermon preparation and how to accomplish them. But, preachers are rarely taught how to put the different elements of a sermon together. That is, preachers learn how to make bricks and mortar, but they don’t know how to build a building. With long hours and hard work and submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit preachers can become proficient at the art and science of hermeneutics. But, all this hard earned information and spiritual insight needs to be put in a form that is easily understood and integrated into life so that those who hear it will encounter the very truth of God. After that it is all up to the Holy Spirit. I am working on a practical sermon preparation process for expository sermons that should be done in a few days. I’ll post it when it is ready.

It is important to remember that no process is a magic pill. Following a process will not guarantee that the sermon you come up with will be an accurate representation of what a Bible passage is about. No process can do that. But, this process will help you to more quickly, and with more accuracy, understand the Word of God and help you to make the most of the abilities and time you already have. And, following a process will not magically make you a more dynamic preacher. This also depends on the work of God and your giftedness. But, this process will help you to be armed with a message from God that He will hopefully, if He is gracious, take and use to glorify Himself, build-up His people and call the lost to Himself.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. thinkcreatedesign permalink
    May 25, 2007 8:45 pm

    I love the line “…or they are lazy”. Sometimes it’s sad but true.

  2. jose permalink
    June 12, 2007 6:36 am

    One of the biggest mysteries I’ve encountered in life is that anyone can actually like the 49ers, oh! and opera. Yes, I know LA doesn’t have a football team, the Lambs moved to St Louis. If that isn’t bad enough I now live in Missouri and the guys hear love the Lambs. (aka. Rams) About our post “bad preaching” how can a guys share with his new pastor that his preaching is bad? eisegesis all over the place. Any thoughts? thanks Blessed be the name of the Lord.
    PS do you like Kieth Green (musician)

Don't drop by without saying hi

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: