11 Ways to Mess Up Your Preaching or Teaching This Weekend

Many of us will be teaching a small group and/or preaching to a congregation this weekend. These tasks are heavy ones for which we will answer to God. Nobody wants to “mess up” in this task, but here are some ways you might:

  1. Don’t pray much prior to teaching or preaching. A quick prayer before stepping behind a podium seems hardly sufficient to teach or preach the Word – and doing these tasks without praying is nothing less than self-idolatry.
  2. Don’t teach the Bible. If you really want to weaken your work this weekend, take a week off from the Bible. Focus on something else, or use the Bible only tangentially (which means you’re using the Bible wrongly).
  3. Use Hebrew and Greek words unnecessarily. Seldom is there a necessity to pronounce and thoroughly explain these words in a sermon. Sometimes we do that to impress others rather than to train them. 
  4. Claim somebody else’s material. That’s plagiarism, and it’s wrong. It’s sin, in fact. It can cost you your role, which means it messes up your whole life.
  5. Be boring. I’ve said it before on this site: I don’t know how anyone makes the gospel boring, but it happens. The problem is that most boring people don’t realize they’re boring.
  6. Use outdated or irrelevant illustrations. The story that worked in 2007 in the rural South might not work in a 2017 urban Midwestern city. Old, unconnected illustrations distract the listeners rather than help them see the light.
  7. Let audiovisuals overshadow the Word. I affirm the use of audiovisuals, but they can easily push the Word away from the forefront.
  8. Provide little or no relevant application. Many hearers will not automatically connect the Bible’s teaching to their individual lives. So, you can mess up your preaching or teaching by not helping them apply the text.
  9. Chase rabbits. Like the boring preacher, those who “chase rabbits” seemingly don’t even recognize what they’re doing. The listeners do, though – and that’s the problem.
  10. “Wing it,” and blame something for your lack of preparation. Unexpected family and ministry responsibilities do sometimes limit prep time, but it’s also easy to blame other things when we’ve just been lazy in the Word.
  11. Be living in sin. I needn’t say much here. If you’re living an ungodly life, you’re already messing up your teaching and preaching.   

Let’s be honest with each other. How have you at times messed up your teaching or preaching?


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