Eleven Commandments For Long-Winded Preachers

I want to credit Colin Adams for this unique title, but the ideas are mine.

1. Thou shalt not enter the pulpit unprepared: 

  • Unprepared preachers just fill their time.
  • They substitute showmanship for substance.
  • They run up and down the isles spitting, sputtering, shouting, and making the congregation wonder if they have had their rabies shot.

2. Thou shalt not reminisce for a long time. I watched a rather famous preacher do this for an hour and then he preached his sermon for another hour.

3. Thou shalt not ignore the clock. Story: A little boy asked the pastor’s wife what it meant when the pastor took his watch off and laid it on the pulpit. The pastor’s wife said, “Not a blasted thing. He will preach until he is done! FOLKS, WE WANT PEOPLE IN LOVE WITH GOD NOT THE CLOCK. 

4. Thou shalt not be overly repetitive. I watched a preacher make the same point 10 different ways beating around Robin Hood’s barn when the people understood his point after the first illustration.

5. Thou shalt not dwell on thy favorite issue: 

  • Preachers tend to have a favorite issue they like to dwell on.
  • No matter what the text is they find a way to work that issue into every sermon.
  • They will ride that hobby horse every time.
  • Ten minutes can gallop away rather quickly on that hobby horse issue.

6. Thou shalt not attempt to preach the entirety of a doctrine. 

  • It is virtually impossible to preach the entirety of a doctrine in one sermon.
  • There is such a thing as “information overload.”
  • Studies have been done as to how much people retain from a verbal speech. It is only about 10% of what the speaker says.

7. Thou shalt not gab during the introduction of your sermon and then cut the sermon short. Instead cut the gab, not the sermon.

8. Thou shalt not attempt to impress the audience using big words. Notice this advice: “Don’t use a big word when a singularly unloquacious and diminutive linguistic expression will satisfactorily accomplish the contemporary necessity.” 

9. Thou shalt not run “rabbit trail”: 

  • Preachers tend to go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the text of the sermon.
  • After chasing the rabbit that they never seem to catch, they come back to their sermon topic leaving the people wondering what the tangent had to do with the text.

10. Thou shalt don’t devalue your sermon by dragging on and on. Your message is too important to cause people to forget your point because you have no idea how to close your sermon.

11. Thou shalt not forget to summarize. This is so important. It is your last chance to drive home your point to the congregation.