Thursdays with Todd: 4 Reasons Proper Pronunciation in the Pulpit Matters

Let me start this post by saying that it’s simply unrealistic to expect that speakers will always use the exact word, precise phrase, or even the correct grammar and usage. Plus, many have been blessed by messages even when they contained mispronunciations or other blunders. 

At the same time, though, mispronouncing words in the pulpit can weaken our messages. When preachers speak of the raising of “Lazareth” instead of “Lazarus” or the cross of “cavalry” instead of “Calvary,” for example, they risk losing the attention of some of their listeners. 

Thankfully, most listeners are forgiving when preachers mispronounce a word while sharing a spontaneous aside or making a sudden, impassioned plea. But, grace is no excuse for indolence! The call to preach is a call to speak and teach the very words of God. Here then are four reasons to strive for proper pronunciation in the pulpit.

  1. It indicates we take our position seriously. The preaching ministry is a high calling that demands care and precision (see James 3:1). If we fail to take a few seconds to look up a word to ensure we are using it correctly, we may indicate we don’t take our role very seriously. Thanks to the internet today, we enjoy immediate access to numerous language apps and sites to help us with proper pronunciation of words. 
  2. It shows we value education. Preachers who work hard to speak properly show their appreciation for learning. And, teachers in our congregations will especially thank us for modeling good communication skills for our church and for their students in our congregation. 
  3. It teaches our listeners. When we confidently read biblical names, for example, pronouncing words clearly and carefully, we teach our listeners to do the same. They themselves hear the correct pronunciation and are more likely to cherish the words of Scripture. 
  4. It lends credibility to our message. Surely this is the most important reason. If our hearers cannot trust us to pronounce words properly, can they really trust us to give correct theological definitions and accurate biblical interpretations? On the other hand, when our listeners are accustomed to our careful communication habits, they are more likely to trust the study we have put into our messages.

If you want a resource recommendation, check out the practical site It’s a free and simple aggregator that rapidly researches millions of Youtube videos, instantly providing short clips of people pronouncing words in context. This site is particularly helpful to hear geographical places and other proper nouns, and it takes just seconds to use.

Preachers: what other reasons might you give for using proper pronunciation in the pulpit?

See more of Dr. Linn’s resources at his website,


  • Robin G Jordan says:

    Some churches do not have sound systems. One must project one’s voice when reading Scripture and preaching sermons. The way we pronounce a word can affect whether the congregation hears what we are reading or preaching.

  • Jeannette Shields says:

    When ministers “mispronounce” a word because of their accent (I’m from the Northeast), I say it in my head the way I would say it, then I understand what he is saying. But, when a minister is mispronouncing something in the Scriptures , my first reaction is to think “Did he even study beforehand?” , but my second reaction is to ask him after the service to spell it for me in case I misunderstood it (because I have a hearing problem).
    Our minister usually makes a small joke when going through all those “son of…” parts of the Bible to “wake up “ the ones that tuned him out right then; like,once he said he always wanted to name his son Zerubbabel (see, I can’t even spell it!) but his wife didn’t agree.

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