What you think about your preaching while preparing your message might be just as important as the words you say when you deliver it.
Your preaching preparation might be influenced by many things: criticism, praise, the current needs or trials of your people, the depth of the text—but there’s one thing that shouldn’t influence us: myths.
We’re all prone to wrong thinking at one time or another. Wrong thought patterns creep in from our insecurities, our environment or even our adversary. That’s why it is so important to continually renew our minds on the truth of the Scripture.
These four myths, if believed, can change the direction of your preaching and impact your effectiveness for the kingdom.
Don’t fall for these dangerous beliefs—stay alert, guard your mind, and preach in the freedom and grace God has already given you.
1. More study time equals better sermon delivery.
This myth seems like a logical truth: Spend more time studying commentaries, reading sermons and notes from the greats, and churn out a better, more compelling message in proportion to the time spent. There’s only one problem—it’s not true.
More prep time can be a factor, for sure, but it’s not a universal truth. In fact, the law of diminishing returns often kicks in at some point in our prep, and more study time can actually hurt your message. The best sermon prep is still wrapped up in experiencing the presence of God—not books and more study time.
Ecclesiastes 12:12: But beyond this, my son, be warned: The writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.
2. One bad sermon equals less attendance next week.
I think this is the fear of many preachers—that one monumental, incredibly poor, disastrous sermon will lead to the church’s demise. This is a false assumption based more on fear than on fact.
People are generally forgiving of a bad sermon. The likelihood of your attendance dropping by 10 to 25 percent because you preached a wonky sermon is minimal at best. A well-meaning preacher who loves Jesus and works hard to prepare his sermon, but still bombs, is just not that big of a deal.
Drops in attendance happen over time typically due to many factors, not just a bad sermon. Of course, if you preach something opposed to the gospel or sound doctrine—now, that might equal a drop—but one sermon that didn’t connect to your audience is not a felony offense. It’s better to focus on what God thinks about your sermon, anyway.
I Corinthians 3:6-7: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.