TWENTY POINTERS FOR THE YOUNG PREACHER.
THINGS NOT TO DO
The pulpit is there to hold your notes and Bible. Not you! Unless you are physically handicapped stand on your own two feet.
Make your commands CLEAR! How will they understand if they cannot hear what you say? Why waste your time getting up to preach if the people can't get the message. Don't cause them to be frustrated. Have you ever been behind someone in the audience who could not hear the speaker? "What did he say?" "What was that?" Not only is that person not getting it, those behind are not either, because all they are hearing is that guy questioning what's being said.
Many people talk too low and those that are some distance away cannot hear them. You want 100 percent of the people to hear, not just a few.
Always try to preach to the LAST person in the congregation. That way all will hear.
Screaming, not loud talking, can give the appearance that you have lost control of your message and have your own agenda. While the Bible says in Isaiah to "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet," it also talks about sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Raising your voice to make a point is one thing. Constant shouting without "charity" can be misinterpreted. Make sure you obey the Spirit's leading.
There was one preacher boy that had a bad habit of literally twisting his Bible into all sorts of shapes. He would break the binding and mess up the pages. The people started watching what he was doing with that Bible and not listening to what he was saying.
One man just could not keep his hands still. He would constantly find something and then start to play with it. It might be a little chain on his belt, a piece of fuzz in his Bible or on his clothes. He just could not keep his hands still and it was terribly distracting and really hindered the meetings.
Keep your hands out of your pockets. You are not at the store about to give the cashier change.
You do not want to look like a cow chewing its cud. This is very annoying and distracting to those that are in front of you. It also hinders your speaking ability.
"Now I want to tell you (chew, chew), about the Bible (snap, pop), and all the wonderful things (chomp, chomp), that God has (crack, chew), for us to know about."
Get rid of that gum and not on the bottom of the pew or under the pulpit either.
One time while preaching there was (no kidding) someone's dirty old gum up in the right hand corner of the pulpit.
Honestly, some people look like they just got hit in the stomach. They are all hunched over. This hinders speech and volume and also looks like you have no authority.
Yes, stand straight, but on the other hand, do not stand at attention like a wooden soldier. Avoid extremes in posture.
Try to be a blessing whenever you can. Vengeance from the pulpit is WRONG! No matter who does it. Yes, preach on sin and service, but do not use the pulpit for a whipping post.
This is where you will have to get alone with the Lord and get something from Him and seek His strength to do the job right. Remember Proverbs 18:21 -
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."
Believe me, if you go up proud you will come back humble. Trust in the Lord and not in yourself.
You might not see it, but others will. There is nothing more obnoxious than a proud person.
It does not matter who your preacher hero is, DO NOT try to be like him in your actions and attitude. You do not have his character, experience or mannerisms. Do not be a fake. God is not interested in "clones."
God used different people with different personalities. Note the 12 apostles; they were all different.
There have been more church splits because someone wanted to act like his preacher "hero" and not be himself. Also, there are some things that an older preacher can say and do that a young preacher just cannot get away with.
There will be much pressure to lower the standards and convictions when dealing with people. Stay true to the Word of God. However, do not be a legalist or Pharisee about it either.
THINGS TO DO
This cannot be emphasized enough. Do your best to have a good set of clothes. It is amazing how many people that want to be a leader, need to be lectured on this topic. The old proverb, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," is worth thinking about. Make sure your suit is dry-cleaned and doesn't have holes in it.
Do not wear loud clothing. Be conservative in your dress. And for heaven's sake, do not try to imitate those preachers on TV.
Take a bath regularly. Honestly once a month is NOT enough. Having been a teacher of preachers boys, this cannot be stressed enough. Everyone will know that you have body odor but you. Some have been so bad that when they walked into the room, the first thing that people wanted to do was to OPEN THE WINDOWS. Yuk! "By now Lord, HE STINKETH!"
One time a neighbor came to use the telephone. She was there only 15 minutes. Yet, it took two full days spraying with air freshener and opening the windows to get rid of her awful odor. Whew! Gag!
Ok, so you took a bath, but you have been preaching for the past forty- five minutes. You are nervous or under a strain.
One time there was a preacher that practiced good hygiene yet did not realize that the combination of starch and the bleach in his shirt caused a conflict with his body odor. Even he could not stand it after he preached his sermon. Fortunately he realized his problem after the first time and took care of it.
Dental hygiene is important. Crud on the teeth is NOT a pleasant thing to look at. White is so much better than green or yellow.
Especially in dealing with people face to face, after a sermon or song service. Even the people that like you will not tell you that you are offensive with your breath.
Many years ago there was a Bible school teacher that had breath so OFFENSIVE that his students literally did the best they could to get the very back rows in his classes. He never knew. But his classes are still remembered to this day. Not by what he taught, but how far away the student could get.
Today it is popular to be "casual." A Mr. Nice Guy. "And here's Johnny!" "Now Chuck is going to talk to you." Ad nausea.
Remember the office you fill needs to be respected. You should not be just one of the boys. Dress properly in a suit and tie.
And whatever you do - DO NOT CALL AN OLDER PREACHER BY HIS FIRST NAME. DID YOU HEAR THAT? DON'T DO IT. It is a sign of great disrespect. It does not make any difference if the whole world is doing it, don't you do it. You say, "But I have known him for years." So what?! ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS show respect to the man of God. Terms that could be appropriate are as follows - Dr., Brother, or Pastor. There is an old saying and for the most part it is true. "Familiarity breeds contempt."
No you can't be a Jesus freak. Long hair on a man looks effeminate and that is the last impression that a preacher ought to give to his congregation. (1 Cor. 11:14). Also, even though the hair is not super long, it should at least be trimmed, neat and clean.
One of the signs of being in the last days is that a man will be effeminate. Don't wave your hands around like a woman. Have manly gestures (1 Cor. 6:9). Also, if you have a high-pitched voice then practice lowering it. And PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT WEAR PINK or ruffles on your shirt. Sorry ladies, NO women preachers.
Now this might sound silly, but get in front of a mirror and practice your gestures. Did you know that Spurgeon, considered "the prince of preachers", literally practiced and practiced his voice and mannerisms until he could actually hold people spellbound while they listened to him. Now you may never be a Spurgeon, BUT you can improve.
(PRACTICE YOUR BREATHING AND VOICE)
Learn to use your diaphragm. You mean that I should practice? YES! Remember, practice makes perfect; or if not perfect at least better.
Isn't it strange that a musician knows that he needs to practice; a singer also knows this, but a preacher doesn't think that it is important. WAKE UP!
Some pastors actually wait until about fifteen minutes before the service to prepare a message. There was one pastor that waited until another pastor or deacon presented his material. Then as the aforementioned person was talking the pastor would take notes and preach on what the man just said. That man is a lazy bum and is cheating his people.
Feed your people. There are thousands of good Christian people all over the world that are just starving spiritually. It is a shame and should not happen. The Lord gave clear instructions as to what a pastor ought to do in feeding his people (1 Peter 5:2).
One of the best ways to prepare for future sermons is have a file on different topics and every time you come across something that can be useful file it away.
One pastor has a file that he has worked on for a period of several years, and now he can actually take and use it for his sermon preparation. It does not take him many hours of research either. He has already done it and now it is easy to get the needed resources. Why? Because it is all right there at his fingertips ready at hand.
Most file systems that are promoted in Bible institutes and universities are very complex and actually pretty stupid for a preacher to try to use. Some would require a full time secretary just to take care of his stuff. Very few preachers could afford to do this.
Here is a simple easy-to-use system. Buy some file folders and mark them from A to Z. Every time that you come across a good article just put it in the proper folder. Eventually you will have a nice large resourc file that will cover most of the things you might want to preach about. (Topical - A to Z) and (Textual - Genesis to Revelation). Your topical file will probably be larger than the textual. Note - If you are going to preach on alcohol then it is right there in a folder waiting for you. Easy! There will be many other things that you will have to do as a preacher or teacher and the last thing you want is to have to spend hours each day doing a file system. But you DO need one. So get started NOW. Don't wait.
Write it down; write it down; write it down. Many times the Lord will give you something and if you do not write it down then you will not remember what God gave you.
Some of the best sermons have been thought of in the middle of the night and then just a few notes written down prepares the sermon for the future. Otherwise it would have been forgotten.
Whenever you hear a good illustration write it down then or you will not remember it properly in the future. Especially if you have had a number of them that you have heard in the past several weeks. There will not be very many illustrations that you will remember three years down the road unless you write them down.
Make sure that they properly fit the theme of your sermon. Many times an illustration has been used in sermons and at the end of the sermon the person says, "that was a good illustration", but what was he trying to teach?" "What was the point?" Beware of using an illustration that goes off on a rabbit trail.
Do not get jealous of another teacher or preacher. This is probably one of the greatest sins amongst preachers. Just be faithful to the Lord; do not get bitter; walk in the Spirit and keep your eyes on the Lord. Amen! Try to be a blessing and a help to your people. Let God take care of your "promotion." Real promotion comes from God anyway (Psa. 75:6-7). Stay humble and He will lift you up. (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:10).
One other thing; do not try to "butter up" to the high man on the totem pole. There is nothing so disgusting as preachers that quit being preachers and become politicians. (poly means many; and tic is a blood sucker). Serve God! Yes, be considerate of others, but be careful how & WHY you do it.
DON'T BE A HIRELING - BE GOD'S SERVANT.
There was a man that when he got up to preach, the people groaned, because they knew that they were going to be in for a L-O-N-G session. What also makes this even more horrible is usually that preacher HAD NOTHING TO SAY! Yes, tribulation worketh patience, BUT don't you be the "tribulator." Make it interesting, to the point and with meaning.
One man preached a message and to the best that could be figured out, he had FOUR or FIVE different messages in one. Talk about confusing! The Bible says that God is not the author of confusion, but unfortunately many preachers ARE!
Also, do not forget the letters - KISS. KEEP IT SIMPLE, SON. Do not try to take your brain out and "show off" as to how "smart" you are. You just might succeed.
Forget the psychology. God did not say that He wanted us to preach psychology to the world, but to PREACH THE WORD.
(2 Tim 4:2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
It is a shame when preachers actually know more about psychology than they do the word of God. SOMETHING IS DRASTICALLY WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE! Believe it or not; Freud is NOT the final authority. The Bible is!
The Bible says that Paul preached all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Make sure you have a proper balance and preach all of the Bible, not just some favorite places therein.
To be quite frank, if you are not faithful in church, you should not be a teacher or a preacher - Period! If you are this kind of person you are doing nothing but giving a bad example and will lead others astray. (Heb. 10:25). How can you expect those that listen to you to come faithfully if you are not faithful yourself? This is hypocrisy. Note: Sometimes young preachers will come out to preach but not be faithful in church, handing out tracts, soul-winning, etc. No young man should be allowed to preach until he is found faithful.
A person that is in a position of leadership WILL find that there will be women that just LOVE this position and will want you to pay "special" attention to them. BEWARE! Even David got caught in the devil's trap about this.
You should never forget that you are an example to others and they will be looking UP to you. Don't make them fall.
Keep in mind what you want to get across to the people. Will the sermon be informative? To get them to make a decision of some kind? To see someone get saved? What are you striving for? Make sure that it is clear in your own mind. If not then you will have a confusing message.
This list by no means is exhaustive dealing with this subject. However, it is hoped that these points will give a common sense approach and be helpful to young preachers.
Let all things be done decently and in order.
(1 Cor 14:40)