The Ten Worst Habits of Preachers

Michael Jensen of Sydney, Australia, keeps the “The Blogging Parson” wherein he frequently discusses the art and craft of preaching. In this post, he names ten things preachers often inflict on hearers.

The Ten Worst Habits of Preachers

My assumption in this list is a culture that values the preaching of scripture very highly. This of course should not be assumed at all! There are actually worse crimes than these that include doing violence to the text of scripture, or ignoring it altogether, or waffling and calling it ‘spirit-led’.

1. Merely ‘explaining/teaching the Bible’ and not preaching the living Word of God. (I think we should ban the phrase ‘we are now going to hear the Bible explained’. I don’t need it explained. I need it preached.)

2. Introducing us to the text and not to the issue addressed by the text.

3. Providing overelaborate explanations of the biblical-theological background to no great end.

4. Moralising from the Old Testament.

5. Reading every OT text immediately in terms of Christology without regard to its own particular context and meaning and purpose.

6. Speaking down to the congregation; assuming we are simpletons and do not read or think for ourselves. That our questions just need better information in order to answer them.

7. Getting Penal Substitution (or whatever the hot-button issue is for your church!) from every single text.

8. Illustrations that confuse more than illuminate. That’s…most of ’em.

9. Never referring to self and own Christian faith in sermon. (Of course, the opposite is worse: using the pulpit for autobiographical purposes. Yuck.)

10. Making ill-informed generalisations about culture/sociology from a knee-jerk conservative standpoint.

11. (sorry) Pop-psychologising.

From your perspective–either as the preacher or as the preached-to–what would you add to this list?

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