Seven Things You Should Never Do When Preaching

  1. Don't wing your sermons. Always prepare, and only be spontaneous if the Holy Spirit directs it.
  2. Don't apologize for a lack of preparation or being tired.
  3. Don't talk much about how you arrived at your sermon.
  4. Don't ramble on with fillers.
  5. As with offerings, never manipulate by making people feel guilty.
  6. Don't leave people feelings hopeless or condemned.
  7. Don't leave your audience feeling beat up.

Seven Guidelines for Good Preaching

  1. Be a hunter/gatherer of God's treasures.
  2. Discover the message or theme that God wants.
  3. Study the Bible with due diligence.
  4. Organize your message to avoid loss.
  5. Find the title, introduction, body and conclusion.
  6. Fill your sermon with illustrations.
  7. Deliver it dynamically and appropriately.

Let's expand on these guidelines to help better understand each point.

1: Hunt for and Gather God's Treasures
The minister of the Lord isalways walking in the Spirit,looking and listening to find nuggets of gold. Jesus taught about the beauty of flowers in the field, of God's protection for sparrows, the care of sheep, finding a lost coin by a diligent old widow, and the vessel that new wine must be prepared in.
Can you picture Him seeing these actual things in His daily life? As He is walking through the land, the Holy Spirit is revealing gems of revelation about the world around Him. He gathers these treasures, and later they come into His sermons to make the presentation of His message more powerful.
He hunted for nuggets of gold in the scriptures and often quoted them.
When I was a young preacher, I would write down a detail to remind me of the small revelatory treasures that I discovered each day. Things that people would say, interesting or unusual information, revelations from scripture, dynamics of my walk with God, things I saw in the natural world and powerful insights regarding human relationships.
All of these became treasures I gathered. I would later review them when preparing sermons. They all came from God, so at some point, they all made it into my sermons.
2: Discovering What to Preach
It is easy to know what subject to speak on during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day or Passover, but it is challenging to know what to preach when it is not the holiday season, or if you haven't yet been assigned a topic.
God speaks in various ways, so we must learn to listen. He speaks through the Bible, through our hearts, through dreams and visions, through angels, people, signs and wonders, through circumstances, and even through an audible voice.
A good place to begin your search for a message is to review what God has already shown you. Read the words you gather and see what jumps out at you; especially the Bible verses.
Then, sometimes I pray and open my Bible to discover that God is putting His finger on the same verse I put mine on. Acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.
I continue listening and finding that the Lord's leading in the beginning is not always where I end up.
He was just preparing me. We must trust the Lord if we want to be led by Him. If we wrestle with God in the preparation of our sermons, He will always lead us to the right message, and it will be amazing.
3: Study the Scriptures
Study the scriptures diligently. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Tim 2:15
I tend toresearch Bible passagesusing sevendifferent translations of the texts, and using theGreek and Hebrew dictionaries. I always discovernew dynamicswhen I read the scriptures this way.If I am teaching challenging doctrine, I read every verse about the theme that I can find, so that I will have sound doctrine.
Because I have been studying the scriptures for more than fifty years, many pertinent verses will come to mind when I am preparing. I enjoy taking time to research verses so I can add it to my message and better explain its meaning.
4: Organizing to Avoid Loss
If you do not organize your sermon, you may forget details or run out of time, leaving out important points or delivering them ineffectively. Preachers can blame this loss on the leading of the Spirit, but it might be a lack of organization, time management, or failure to remove items of lesser importance that take up time.
As a rule, do not read too many verses; quoting them is better. Pray for guidance to organize points powerfully. Begin with a strong verse and arrange your points systematically, with repetition of major items for emphasis.
5: Title, Intro, Body and Conclusion
Anyone who has studied public speaking has learned this format, so I will not belabor it. But do not discount the value of this format. I will emphasize that you should not bypass any of these four dynamics. Each one is vital to a firmly structured sermon.
6: Illustrate, Illustrate, Illustrate!
Explaining Bible verses or ideas is notillustration. Most people cannot endure explanation without lots of illustration.The number one weakness of preachers is not having enough of them.
The best way to do this is by including intimate, personal, historic or Biblical stories into your teaching. Miraculous testimonies, interesting scientific knowledge, poems, famous quotes, dreams, prophecies and appropriate jokes are also great methods for illustrating your message.
From start to finish, your goal is to hold people's attention.
7: Passionate and Appropriate Delivery
If you aren't excited about your messages, others won't be.It must be like a fire in your bones, so you can light up the house. Release the word with great enthusiasm.The style must be appropriate for your audience. The preaching style should be different on the mission field in a developing nation compared to preaching to the faculty of Harvard University.Know your audience.
Here are a few pointers:
  • Make eye contact with each section of the room.
  • Raise and lower your voice for dynamic emphasis.
  • Watch to see if you have the people's attention or if you are losing them.
  • If you are losing them, tell a powerful and relevant story.
  • With great persuasion, drive the major points home using repetition.
  • Review your points at the end and call for a spiritual response.
Most important, however, is to always remember to start and close your sermon with a faith-filled prayer.
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