How to Preach a Bad Sermon

How to Preach a Bad Sermon

I just heard a bad sermon today (visiting friends, of course). I tried not to sleep through it. Forty-five minutes of meticulous theology rapidly delivered in a soft monotone. Zzzzzz…..

Highly-trained, experienced pastors should know the basics of public speaking. Some prerequisites should be self-evident, but often they are not.  

Five sure-fire tips guarantee you will be a better preacher or teacher: 

1. Keep it simple. Your congregation, due to media and other distractions, has the attention span of a gnat. My husband Roger started as a children’s pastor. It took an act of God to keep those kids riveted to their seats. Five hundred restless children taught him how to preach. Lose them once, shame on them. Lose them twice, shame on me! 

“Put the cookies on the lower shelf where everyone can reach them”-Dr. Harry A. Ironside. 

That doesn’t mean that you teach a sermon devoid of powerful biblical content! It’s trendy to water down the truth to be seeker-friendly (or politically correct). Don’t sell out. Jesus never back-peddledNeither should you.  

Teach the Bible clearly and directly. German theologian Karl Barth was asked, “What is the most profound spiritual truth you’ve discovered?” He said, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  

2. Look at your audience. Obvious, right? I guess not. Some speakers keep their noses in their notes 80% of the time! If you are reading your sermon, you are ill-prepared. Learn it!  Listeners want to know by your eyes and body language that you genuinely care about them. 

3. Tell stories. Jesus was a storyteller. Stories solidify teaching and engage your hearer. Your message is like a building. Bible precepts are the bricks. Illustrations are windows that illuminate the room. Nobody builds a building without windows. They may not remember your four-point outline, but they never forget a story.  

4. Keep it fresh. Don’t preach re-runs. Few recording artists reach the quality and originality of their first albums. Movie sequels are mostly lame. Read widely. Be well-informed about popular culture. Don’t stick your nose in the sand. Cultivate friends of every age and background.  

5. Be godly. People smell hypocrisy a mile away. Seek Jesus. Pray always. The Holy Spirit will faithfully apply and activate your words. It’s trite but true. Spirituality is more often caught than taught. 


My husband felt he had failed if someone fell asleep during his sermon.

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