9 keys to preaching a lousy sermon

WP Greet Box icon
Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.

Most people, when they preach, want to do well. Right?

Most people want others to experience God, encounter truth, and leave changed. Most people want the hard work they put into their sermons to have some sort of impact on the people listening.

image credit: Creation Swap user Justin Knight (http://creationswap.com/justinknight)

Most people.

But not everyone. Some people aim to preach a lousy sermon. If you’d like to be one of those preachers, here’s your list.

9 keys to preaching a lousy sermon

1. Spend very little time praying.

If your sermon is going to be lousy, this is where you’ve got to start. Don’t seek God in prayer. Don’t spend time begging Him to lead your thoughts and your words. Don’t plead with him to soften hard hearts and open blind eyes.

2. Make your sermon purely about “teaching” propositional truths.

Go at it like your 7th grade history teacher…the one that you thought was boring. The one that you didn’t remember anything from her class. Just teach lofty moral platitudes and propositional truth statements that don’t drive any application home. That’ll get the job done.

3. Make your “study time” primarily about listening to other preachers talk about that passage.

Whatever you do, don’t read the Bible for yourself and study the Scriptures to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15). Live off of others’ relationship with God, their experience with Him, and the knowledge and insight they’ve gained.

4. Don’t use the word “I” at all.

Don’t let things get too personal. Use ‘they’ and ‘them’ primarily. Slip in a few ‘you people’ and you’re good to go. Talk about “those people” a lot.

5. Heap burden after burden on top of your people.

Condemnation is the way to go. Try to make sure those condemning thoughts weave themselves throughout your sermon. Something like ‘The 5 ways you sinned this week and didn’t know it’ or ‘Why God hates you’ or ‘The 17 ways you’ll never measure up” or “Quit trying…you’re not doing any good anyway.”

6. Be sure to yell. Loudly. And obnoxiously.

Be careful with this one, though. People might think that, because you’re yelling, you’re saying something important. We all know you’re not. Just be careful.

7. Be completely absent and disengaged from people the entire week leading up to your sermon.

Because, if you’re not careful, your ministry of loving and serving people could bleed over into your sermon. The times you spend praying with and for people could have a drastic impact on the way you teach and preach. Be careful.

8. Don’t ask for anyone else’s input prior to preaching.

Study, prepare, write, and rehearse on your own. Don’t let anyone else take a look at your notes, your wording, or the direction you’re going to head on Sunday. Go it alone, my friend. Nobody else is as awesome as you are. The moment someone else tries to offer you a bit of advice, refer back to #6, above.

9. Don’t spend time wrestling through your own sins and weaknesses.

Just focus on other people. It’s much easier this way. Focusing on yourself gets all personal. And it means you have to be vulnerable. And…well, I’ll stop right there. I was just about to go into confession time. I can’t go there…and neither can you.

There you go. 9 steps to preaching a lousy sermon. Now get out there and start preaching!


Ever seen/heard a pastor lead this way?



Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://edsslipper.net/ Pierre

    10.  (This is from the hilarious “my ministry manual” by Stephen Tomkins) Have this, and only this, as sermon notes:
     a. Open the Bible, and read a few chapters
     b. Glare at the congregation
     c. Wait for inspiration
    (If in doubt, go back to a, and try again)

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Ha! Yes…I love it, Pierre!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Smith/1158053319 Robert Smith

    I think #4 is great!  It’s the reason pastors for years have been put on a pedestal and come crashing down so hard.  If more pastors would say “I”, their congregations just might come to the conclusion they’re human.  I try not preach anything I am not working on myself.  It allows me to be more personal and more passionate.  Thanks, Ben!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      That’s good stuff, Robert. Sounds like you’re a great preacher!

  • Anonymous

    But my boring 7th grade history teacher was a guy, not a woman…so…lesson not learned :)

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Dang. Oh well. I tried. :)

  • http://www.SammyA.com Sammy Adebiyi

    Hmm, I feel like this is a trick question. :) Am I supposed to be pointing at myself here on some of these? Ha ha.  

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Sammy, if the shoe fits…

  • http://1Eight.us Greg Barber

    I love #4, so important to be real and authentic. You dont have it all, so stop pretending that you do!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed


  • http://www.rjgrune.com/ RJ Grunewald

    I love #5…”quit trying, you’re not doing good anyways.”  great reminders!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      It’s always a good idea to give hope. Always.