2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth
Memorize this verse. Recite it to yourself often. Study it, know it, make it part of you and everything that you do. This is the heart and soul of a sermon: study, study, study, and then study some more.
Read constantly and on a broad range of subjects. Classics, poetry, history, geography, current events, and anthropology are some of my favorites. T. F. Tenney once said something to the effect that there was a minister that told him he didn’t like to read – and it showed in his preaching. If you don’t put anything in, nothing is going to come out and there isn’t much that is more annoying or boring than a sermon about nothing
Preach faith. If you don’t believe what you are saying, then don’t say it. Don’t tell someone that God heals if you don’t believe that they can be healed right then and there – you will hurt their faith by your unbelief.
Preaching is more than a message – it is power to change lives forever. You wouldn’t play around with a gallon of gasoline that is on fire, don’t play with a sermon either – someone will get burned up for sure.
Some things you preach and some things you teach – there is a difference (for example standards you teach, holiness you preach)
Always have a point. Know what you are trying to accomplish in their lives. If you don’t know where you are going with a message, you will get precisely nowhere – and take them with you.
K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. Nothing is worse than a preacher talking over his own head. (got that one from the army – sorry about the stupid part)
Never shoot at someone from the pulpit. They shoot at you, and its like a cap gun. You or your wife shoots at them and its like using a cannon on them.
Always leave a sinner a way to get to the altar. Let them have a way of escape – if you preach them into hell, make sure you leave the exit sign lit up and the door out unlocked so they can find their way to heaven!
The highest calling on earth is being a minister of God. You aren’t worthy of it – remember that when success comes calling.
Preach the Word. Don’t get distracted from this and go off into issues. If you stay in the book, the issues will take care of themselves. C. H. Spurgeon said on his 25th pastoral anniversary “If anybody had been standing in this place and preaching politics and temperance for twenty-five years, I wonder if he could have kept a congregation. All other subjects become exhausted: But give me the Bible and the Holy Ghost, and I can go on preaching forever.” He may not have had all the truth, but he sure got that one right!
It is better to be short and have something to say, than to be long winded and not have anything to say. It is like a minister I heard say one time (don’t remember who he was) “Preaching is like drilling for oil. If you bore for more than twenty minutes and don’t hit oil, it is time to pull up and go somewhere else!”
Be careful with humor, a little can be a great tool to relieve tension, focus attention, and relax people after a hard hitting thought, but too much is worse than none at all. You can end up looking like a clown in a suit and distract from the work of the Spirit. Another thing about humor is don’t force it – be yourself and let it flow, don’t go to the joke of the week looking for a joke to force into the notes you are using.
Sarcasm is never funny and hurts everyone involved. In a word: Don’t.
Sermon building follows fire building – Billy Sunday said “I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn” If you aren’t on fire, they won’t be either.
Don’t expect them to worship with you if you don’t worship with them. If you don’t sing with them in song service and worship with them, don’t expect them to worship with you while you preach.
Never go into the pulpit mad.
Remember that every sermon you preach contains a lot of you. Your personality, prayer life, and beliefs go out with your sermon even if you don’t put them in there. You can’t separate the man from his message.
A sermon begins where a river begins: In the sky.
Written by Pastor Douglas White