A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Learning from the Top 10 preaching mistakes

David Murray has had the privilege of hearing many beginning preachers preach their first sermon. Sometimes, it’s stunning how God has gifted a person and you hope Seminary doesn’t spoil them! Usually, however, first sermons confirm the need for much further training.  Here, David has graciously highlighted a few of the mistakes that keep recurring among budding preachers. I must of course add that though one can never deliver the “perfect sermon” it is good to learn how to communicate effectively:

1. Cramming: Squeezing all you have ever studied about the Bible over the years into 30 minutes.

2. Skimming: Taking too many verses and simply skimming over the surface of the text, teaching nothing that someone with average intelligence would not have derived from the text themselves.

3. Floating: The preacher says many things that relate to the text, floating or hovering above the text, but fails to show how they are anchored in the text.

4. Proof-texting: Including lots and lots of texts from all over the Bible, and sometimes diverting hearers by expounding the proof texts as much as the sermon text.

5. Quoting: Too many quotes from commentators, theologians, and other preachers from the past and the present.

6. Lecturing: It’s difficult to define the difference between preaching and lecturing, but you know it when you see it/hear it. It’s about passion, eye-contact, persuasion, urgency, etc.

7. Assuming: Our own over-familiarity with the text results in us assuming that our hearers know the background of the text, the meaning of basic key words and concepts, etc. May also result in Mach 7 preaching speeds. And don’t assume your hearers are all converted either.

8. Confusing: Hearers are left confused usually because of a lack of structure or too complicated a structure (main points, sub-points, etc.); or sometimes there is a good structure, but it’s not sufficiently highlighted and emphasized so that hearers know where they’ve been, where they are, and where they are going.

9. Spraying: Lots and lots of data, but no single dominant thought; it’s the difference between a shotgun and a rifle.

Okay, okay I only listed nine. But hey you could go over to David Murray and ask him for the 10th. Here!

[Excerpted from Top 10 preaching mistakes by David Murray]


3 responses to “Learning from the Top 10 preaching mistakes

  1. pstok October 19, 2011 at 23:05

    As we are “between churches” at present we have heard many sermons in many churches. The absent Christ is one concern, the Bible as a “collection of moral stories” is another, and the lack of any solid application of the word to the life of the congregation is a third area of concern.

    • Acidri October 19, 2011 at 23:23

      One of the most frustrating periods is when you are church hunting or looking for the right church. You get to see and hear alot. True the “absent christ” is a very common concern.

  2. Keith M. Hersch October 20, 2011 at 00:20

    I think I am guilty of every single one of these at one point or another.

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