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10 Guidelines for Avoiding Indecent Exposure in the Pulpit

6. Spare us the details.

Once or twice a year, I permit unplanned testimonies in worship. But I remind volunteers they cannot tell it all.

It just seems the more details they try to give, the more the testimony goes astray. The same thing happens in preaching. The most details about a situation, conversation or experience you give, chances are you will over-speak. The devil is in the details.

So only say what is necessary to get your point across.

7. Don’t play the hero.

Avoid illustrations in which you are the star. You don’t want people to think more highly of you than they ought. A surefire way to produce misguided hero-worship is to tell stories that feature you as the hero—the one who prayed or forgave or sacrificed or exhibited patience or led someone to Christ. Be the villain.

Let Jesus be the hero.

8. Good for the soul, bad for the reputation.

If there is something you need to confess, tell it to the Lord—not to your congregation! Beware, in the attempt to prove you are human, you can suggest you are not spiritually qualified to preach.

Even if it is something buried in the past of your pre-Christian days, still be careful. You want to invite prodigals home, not make the far country seem desirable.

9. Make sure you are over it before you talk about it.

When we have gone through hurts and pains and sorrows, we want to share the lessons we have learned with our people. Let those lessons sit a while. Make sure you pass the class first.

Don’t vomit your hurt feelings, open wounds or unhealed offenses on your congregation.

10. Remember it’s not about you.

The best way to avoid indecent exposure in the pulpit is to stay focused on the fact that the message is not about you. Your people should learn more about Christ from your sermons than they learn about you. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves,” said the Apostle Paul, “but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Christ’s sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).

What else would you recommend to avoid indecent exposure in the pulpit?  

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H.B. Charles, Jr. is a pastor, speaker, and writer. He lives with his wife and children in Jacksonville (FL), where he serves as the Senior-Pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.