6 Sermon Myths We Need to Bust

3. Thorough planning eliminates the Holy Spirit

As a church grows, it becomes more structured.

As I outlined in my last book, Lasting Impact, and in posts like this one, this is a good thing. You need to structure bigger to grow bigger.

Part of that means preaching preparation happens far earlier than in many cases.

I personally plan our series months in advance and write my messages weeks in advance. It helps our team function far better.

One criticism of advanced planning is that it removes the Holy Spirit from message preparation.

I’m not sure that logic holds up.

That critique implies that the Holy Spirit shows up when you’re panicked and unprepared more than he does when you work ahead. If you take it further, the argument would be that the more panicked and unprepared you are, the more spiritual you are.

Too many preachers say they’re relying on the Holy Spirit when in reality, they didn’t prepare.

The Holy Spirit can and will show up a month in advance of your message like he will the night before your message.

In fact, you may have more time to listen to him a month before than you do during your Saturday night scramble.

Does advance preparation mean you can never make last minute changes? Of course not.

But your team will thank you and ultimately your congregation will thank you if you show up studied, prepared and rested.

4. You should judge your message based on how well you did

So I’m a recovering performance addict.

In my early years of preaching, I was obsessed with ‘how well I did.’

Too often, that became a defining characteristic of my evaluation. It led me to ask questions like

Did people like me?

Did they think I was funny?

Did they think I was a great communicator … or just a good one?

Insecurity and narcissism are close cousins, you know.

Here’s an imperfect but better set of questions:

Did the message faithfully communicate the text?

Did it connect with people?

Did they respond to the stories and the humour?

Did it help anyone? How?

How can I grow as a communicator?

The early questions were far too much about me and not nearly enough about the content or the audience.

As someone once told me, stop focusing on how well you’re doing as a preacher and start focusing on your audience. So true.

Take it further as a preacher: Focus on Christ and your audience.

When you lose yourself as a communicator, you find yourself.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.