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5 Dangerous Assumptions in Preaching

Years ago, during the America’s Cup competition in Australia, the Italian team went to the outback on their day off to see if they could find a kangaroo in the wild. They had been outfitted by the designer Gucci with jackets, wallets, bags, and luggage. Near the end of their search, much to their surprise, a kangaroo jumped out of the brush and was struck by their Jeep. As the kangaroo lay there, presumably dead, an idea struck them. They put the driver’s jacket on the animal and took a picture of a Gucci-clad kangaroo. As they prepared to snap the picture, the kangaroo—which had only been stunned—jumped up and hopped into the brush wearing the jacket. You can imagine the driver’s regret when he remembered his keys and wallet were in the jacket. Assuming the animal was dead proved to be costly.

It’s the same in the preaching world: False assumptions can be costly. Assuming the wrong thing can at least hinder our communication; at worst, it can cost us our audience. There are five dangerous assumptions in preaching, and the extent of the damage they do may vary, but the fact that they are costly does not.

Assumption #1: “People are dying to hear me speak.”

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Only one-half of this assumption is true. People are dying! There is no one there, though, who is dying to hear you speak. I’ve rarely met a person who got a speeding ticket on their way to church!

How does avoiding this false assumption impact your preaching? One is in the area of pride—an area where every preacher is vulnerable. Instead of walking into the pulpit amazed with how popular you are, you will walk into the pulpit overwhelmed with how privileged you are. Instead of focusing on how fortunate the people are to have you, you will focus instead on how fortunate you are to have your people. Instead of falling into Satan’s trap of thinking, “I can do anything,” you will heed God’s warning, “Without me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The second way avoiding this false assumption impacts you is in preparation. You carefully examine your introduction, making sure it strikes a need and properly orients people toward the text. You are abundant in your use of illustrations to keep people’s attention. You have a healthy sense of humor that makes what you say enjoyable and meaningful.

Read Assumption #2 >>

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Dr. R. Larry Moyer is a veteran evangelist and a frequent speaker in evangelistic outreaches, training seminars, churches and universities around the world. Born with an inherited speech defect, Larry vowed to God as a teenager that if He would allow him to gain control of his speech he would always use his voice to declare the gospel. In 1973, Larry founded EvanTell, where he now serves as President and CEO. He has written several books on evangelism and frequently contributes articles to ministry publications.