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11 Mistakes That Take Your Preaching Focus Off Jesus

If God-centered preaching is your goal, if you want to help your hearers focus on God and think on God when they leave your sermon(s), then here are 11 things that you cannot do …

11. Over-repeat yourself. There is repetition for emphasis, and then there is repetition for annoyance. Discern between the two by listening to other preachers. Perhaps you should ask your wife if you over-repeat yourself. Wives are great assets to pastors because they will often tell you the truth. Church members are often overly kind, except for the occasional “preaching expert.”

10. Form your sermon points first, and then find a text to fit your points. Rarely will you find a text to fit your points. Instead, in order to make the text fit, you will be forced to pluck the text out of context. The text should form your points, instead of you forcing your points onto a text. If you force your points on a text, it is impossible for the Christians in the pew to submit to your teaching and enjoy the Lord through the specific text you are preaching from. (Granted, you are probably still preaching truth that is found elsewhere in the Bible. At least, I hope!)

9. Be very animated in your body language. Everyone will either enjoy you or be terribly annoyed. If they leave the service thinking about you, regardless if it’s positive or negative, your sermon failed. Remember that the goal of preaching is to excellently allow the Word of God to stand on its own. Thus, don’t be distractingly animated, and do not wear flashy suits or style your hair in a flashy way.

8. Be overly boring. Do not talk in a monotone voice. The goal is to excellently allow the word to stand on its own, not to make the most wonderful book ever written the most boring book ever written. You may be so concerned with detracting from the word that you stand up and read in a monotone voice. Don’t do it because there is no proof in the Scriptures that any of the prophets, apostles or Christ did such things when they spoke. In other words, when you overly bore so you won’t detract from the Scriptures, you still detract from the word, just on the opposite end of the spectrum. I must inject a brief note here: If you are a master of the English language like Jonathan Edwards was, then you may be able to get away with reading a manuscript in a monotone voice. If Edwards had preached like George Whitefield, he may not have lead anyone to the Lord, for sinners would have been too mesmerized by him to get to Christ.

7. Be overly humorous. The goal is to encourage your hearers to enjoy God through His word, not to enjoy you. If your hearers leave thinking, “What a funny preacher,” then you preached a terrible sermon. The word of God must be on their heart and mind when they leave, and if God is not on their hearts and minds when they leave, then they shouldn’t be able to lay this sin at your feet.

6. Preach your opinion or hobby-horses instead of what the text says. How can you excellently allow the word of God to stand on its own when you ignore how God the Holy Spirit originally inspired the literary makeup of the text in its specific historical context? If the word of God needs your innovation, then it is no longer the word of God. The word of God is powerful because of its Author, not because of its messenger (you). Where the Bible speaks, God speaks. Get out of the way, and help your hearers hear Him speak by preaching exactly what His word says, brought from its original context into the context of your hearers.

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Jared has served in pastoral ministry since 2000. He is the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. He is the author of 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to Be Tipped. Jared is married to Amber and they have four children. He is a teaching assistant for Bruce Ware at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and a PhD Student in Systematic Theology at SBTS. You can take Jared's Udemy Course, "How to Enjoy God Through Movies, TV, Music, Books, etc." with this link for 43% off. Engage popular culture with Scripture. Enjoy God through popular culture.