Moses told his fellow Hebrews to “Ask thy father and he will show thee, Thine elders, and they will tell thee…” (Deut. 32:7). Over the last 54 years I have learned a few things about preaching that would be helpful to the man who is just getting started…if he is willing to listen and learn.
* Always arrive at the house of worship ahead of time so you will be there to greet the people, and deliver you lessons without any delay. A tardy preacher is not appreciated.
* Make it your rule never to deliver a sermon without reasonable preparation.
* This means you should have a few extra sermons prepared that you can use on short notice should an emergency arise.
* Speak up and speak clearly. The audience cannot hear nor will they appreciate a sermon that is muffled and mumbled.
* Give your audience a lesson that is worth the time they have spent with you.
* A short lesson is almost always better than a long one. Plan your lessons for 30 minutes and deliver them as planned. Always have a watch with you or a clock that you can see.
* Use notes. They will help you stay on your subject and get through in your allotted time.
* When you reach the end of your lesson, close and have a seat. The old timers use to say, there no pleasure in chewing old gum. People don’t enjoy listening to 15 minutes of reiteration.
* Never apologize for God’s Truth. If he has told us that a thing is true or false, good or bad, that settles the matter. Sinful man must adjust himself to the sacred standard. God’s Word cannot be amended to please men (Gal. 1:10).
* Never speculate when you are preaching or teaching. Declare unto you audience God’s Word on the matter.
* Avoid using the phrase “I believe” when you preach. What you may personally believe does not really matter. It is what Scripture says that counts. Better to say, “The Bible says.”
* Always show the people where they can verify your statements in God’s Word. Do not allow any teacher or other preacher discourage you from that practice. For generations it has been the distinguishing mark of our preaching.
* Plan your sermons so that each segment of the congregation will hear lessons that speak to their needs and so they will be taught the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
* Never allow yourself to fall into the trap of harping on a particular theme. Folks will soon turn you off. There are hundreds of important themes in God’s Word. Speak to all of them.
* Do not use the pulpit to throw stones of criticism at your elders or some other person or group within the congregation. Some preachers continually bang away at the young people, etc.
* Be flexible in planning your lessons. Often a need will arise, a special lesson will be needed. Don’t hesitate to break your series of lessons to meet that need.
* Look into the faces of your audience as you teach them. Learn to read their faces…i.e., their response to your message. Make your lesson so that each feels it is personal to him or her.
* Deliver your messages with love (Eph. 4:15). Even when it is necessary to reprove and rebuke, do so as a loving parent reproves his children.
* Each time you speak, do so fully expecting a favorable response. When you close with an exhortation, you must believe in what you are saying and that sincere people want to be saved. Failure to do this will be obvious in your facial expression and the tone of your voice. Your words may invite, but your unspoken message will be saying, I don’t expect anyone to respond.
* Smile and be cheerful as you deliver your lessons. A droll, sour personality does not connect well with his audience.
* Keep a good record of your lessons and when they are delivered. This will keep you from preaching on the same subject too often. It will also help you determine if you are providing the variety that is needed.
* Make sure you instruct your people in the doctrine of Christ but do not fail to teach them about Christ and the Father.
* Preach only on subjects that you thoroughly understand. A vague, tentative presentation says to the people, he is not sure about this subject. Attempting a subject that is beyond your range of knowledge will result in an embarrassing failure.
* Be as warm and friendly with your members outside of the church building as you are within. When a member meets you at the store or a ball game greet him warmly as a brother.
* Be a devout man of God but do not act in a sanctimonious way. People are repelled by such an attitude.
* Do not be touchy…don’t carry a chip on your shoulder. You work for and with a congregation consisting of many people. Each has his opinion and idea of how things should be done. If they suggest a way, other than yours, do not be offended. Be cordial in considering it. If they offer some criticism of your lesson or your work, smile and thank them. The criticism may be justified. Consider it. You may need to make some changes. If it is some trivial complaint, just smile and ignore it. Most of those things are soon forgotten and the work will go on.
* Consider every member of the congregation your friend and fellow-Christian. Do not show partiality (I Tim. 5:21).
* Be generous in showing recognition and giving credit to those members who are your fellow-workers.
* Don’t demand recognition for yourself. God will adequately recognize and reward you (Matt. 23:11-12).
* Never rush to the front of the serving line, be content to let others go first in all matters (Luke 14:7). Remember we are servants (Matt. 20:27).
* Be generous with your contributions. You must not only teach brethren to be generous you must show them how to be generous (I Cor.11:1).
* Never threaten to leave your job unless you are truly prepared to do so within the next three months. More than one man has thought he would intimidate the church or elders by threatening to resign. To his shock and dismay, they took him up on his offer.
John Waddey* (firstname.lastname@example.org)