First, a caveat: determining what constitutes an effective preacher is subjective, so you and I might differ here a bit—but, I also suspect that we can agree that we know good preaching when we hear it. Based on my interactions with pastors for almost 30 years, here are characteristics of the best preachers I’ve known:
- They love the Word. It’s on their lips not only from the pulpit, but throughout the day. Their preaching really is an overflow of their walk with God.
- They teach the Word. Their goal is to leave their hearers with a word from the Lord via His Word and His Spirit. People come back to hear them because they know the preacher won’t waste their time.
- Their lives bring credibility to their message. That is, nobody questions their integrity as preachers of the Word because they live out their message. You want to hear from them because you trust they’ve been with God.
- They prioritize sermon preparation. Because they set aside time each week to study, seldom do they come to the pulpit unprepared. Anecdotally, strong preachers generally talk to me about 10-12 hours of sermon preparation each week.
- They’re prayerful. The best preachers I know are also some of the most prayerful people I know. Their prayer essentially says, “God, I can’t do this work alone, so please help me.”
- They preach with conviction and compassion. They really believe what they say they believe, but they speak it in a way that invites others to listen. That is, they’re engaging with the force of conviction. Their style makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with the pastor—but you know you’re talking with a man of God.
- They work hard on the sermon’s introduction and conclusion. The former draws the listeners in, and the latter sends them out to serve and minister. Introductions and conclusions are concise and clear.
- They include clear application in their sermons. Preaching without application becomes information more than transformation. From these effective preachers, listeners know possible steps to take on the basis of the Word they had just heard; they don’t have to guess how to live out the Word’s teachings.
- They welcome critique from people they trust. These preachers work intentionally to strengthen their preaching, and they invite others (e.g., accountability partner, staff members, lay leaders) to give their assessment of the preaching.
- They lead from the pulpit. They recognize the significance of the preaching moment when the pastor who shepherds a particular people speaks a particular word to them at a particular time. They lead through preaching.
What would you add to this list?