This week I’m going to be shouting my mouth off about preaching again. We have a bunch of newly accredited ministers at Luther King House and I’m doing some stuff with them. This set me thinking: what would be my ten commandments for preachers? Here’s what I came up with.
1. Eyeball people - really, really eyeball them. If preaching is anything it’s personal.
2. Never leave them asking, “Say’s who?” A preacher is called to minister God’s word, not to act as a guru.
3. Always raise the question, “So what?” Sermons should have implications. This doesn’t mean that you always have to spell out the answer.
4. Be yourself. There’s no need to hide who you are. When God called you to preach he called YOU to preach.
5. Put your heart into it. If it doesn’t clearly matter to you, why should it matter to them?
6. Free yourself from notes as much as possible. A sermon is meant to be an event; a manuscript is a report on an event that happened last week in the study.
7. Love words. Words are a preacher’s tool. If you can’t use words – with flair, with creativity - find something else to do.
8. Forget the adage, “Tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em.” Sure you’ll be clear … and boring as hell.
9. Make sure you preach to the people in front of you. You may not have many advantages over the apostle Paul but you are here and now and he’s not.
10. Remember you are not shutting down a conversation. If you are lucky you though you might start one. You are only a preacher after all.
Let’s be clear these make no pretension to be THE ten commandments for preachers. They are not even all mine – Clyde Fant deserves a credit for at least two of them. They may not still be the ten I’d chose in a few years time. But they’ll do for now.
I’d be interested to know what you make of them, Any other suggestions? I’d be particularly keen to hear from any who listen to sermons more often than preaching them; what would be your ten commandments for preachers?