We’ve all sat through boring preaching that put us to sleep at one point or another.
But what does it really take to preach a sermon that makes your listeners fall sound asleep?
What does it take to defy everyone’s ability to pay attention?
It’s safe to assume that nobody wants to be a boring preacher preaching boring sermons. The whole purpose of preaching is to engage, inspire and motivate our listeners to action.
Though sometimes if we’re not careful, our preaching can become monotonous and predictable…
This tongue-in-cheek post will hopefully give some pointers on what we can do as preacher to improve our messages.
If you can learn to preach better sermons and develop the skill of capturing and keeping your people’s attention then they’ll be far more likely not only remember what we’ve said, but also to apply what you’re teaching from the Word of God to their lives.
After all, that is the main purpose of preaching right?
If you aspire to be a boring preacher preaching boring sermons, here are 10 easy steps to help you. I guarantee that if you’ll put these steps into practice on a regular basis, you’ll have a room full of sleepyheads in no time.
1. Don’t adequately prepare
This first step is easy.
All you have to do is get up to preach without preparing a sermon.
You can either pull out an old sermon you’ve already preached or just repeat some things you already know and already said so your congregation can sleep soundly.
Just last week I went to a church within our network here in Thailand, I had high expectations as they were hosting a visiting speaker from Malaysia.
I was disappointed.
The preacher rambled on for over two hours and at one point actually said “I don’t know how to end.”
So he didn’t. He just kept on going.
This is the laziest way to preach.
It does a real disservice to the Word of God, not to mention the people who have taken time out to come and listen to you.
Do your preparation long before you arrive at the pulpit and know where you’re going.
Your people will thank you.
2. Have no clear focus
This leads us nicely on to our second step: be totally unclear about the direction you want to take the sermon.
Have no clear ending in mind. Boring preachers, instead of starting their sermon prep with the end in mind, will just follow every rabbit trail in their head that doesn’t support their point at all (because they have no point).
Your listening will quickly realise you have no message focus and will stop listening to you.
After all, if you don’t know your point, how can they?
The purpose of preaching isn’t to fill time, but to get a message across.
Remember, great sermons don’t happen by accident, they come from a preacher who knows why he’s there and what the outcome of his sermon will be.
3. Don’t use sermon illustrations
The third step to boring preaching is to expect people to listen to your voice for up to 45 minutes with no practical sermon illustrations, stories or visual media.
Not all members of your congregation are audio learners.
For people who are more visual learners making them sit and listen to your voice with no other stimulus is sure fire way to get to switch and disengage.
A droning preacher’s voice is like a sleep-inducing drug, unless there is a little something to look at (besides the preacher, of course).
Do yourself and your people a favour and use a PowerPoint sermon now and then. Or even a video. It will help.
Visual sermon illustrations are great at captivating ad holding people’s attention. They make your sermons come to life.
Use stories and relevant sermon illustrations to create a memorable impact in your preaching.
In Learn How To Preach Like Jesus we tale a look at Jesus’ approach to preaching – He always used stories to illustrate his point. He engaged people, hundreds of people flocked to come and hear him speak.
Preach like Jesus. Tell a story or two.
4. Preach too long
Just keep preaching. Go on and on and on…
This is really powerful. Even the most loyal in your congregation can only try to look attentive for so long.
If the first 30 minutes didn’t knock everyone out, try another 10 or 15, hey even 20.
The key is persistence. Don’t give up until you see every eye glazed over.
It won’t surprise you to hear that today people’s attention spans are getting shorter.
We’re bombarded everyday with millions of messages so make your point clear and concise if you want your point to be remembered past the church car park.
Get straight to your one point and make it memorable.
5. Don’t use relevant sermon illustrations
Make sure you use stories and illustrations that are relevant to your message – stories, illustration and visual media that help to drive home your sermon point and not take away from it.
Start with your message point in mind.
Everything else in your sermon outline serves to clarify, underpin and reiterate your sermon point forward.
For some more ideas take a look at: 7 Remarkable Stories You Can Use in Your Sermons.
6. Lack passion
One surefire way to get people bored senseless in your sermon is to be bored yourself.
Your church members will think, “If you can’t even get passionate about what you’re saying, why should I be interested?”
If you’re excited about what you’re doing you’ll keep everyone awake. You want to come across as dull.
You should seem somewhat underwhelmed by your content. Make sure everyone scratches their heads wondering why you even bothered. Don’t show any enthusiasm, don’t change the tone of your voice and don’t move around too much.
Do this and I guarantee people will be snoozing before you get past your sermon introduction.
7. Use Lots of Preaching Jargon
Want to put everyone asleep every Sunday? Want to impress people by showing them how smart you are? Use lots of big theological words and don’t explain them.
One of the best ways to be the most boring preach you can be is to make sure your language is so disconnected and confusing that your people give up trying to understand what you’re saying and go back to sleep.
The best way to communicate with people in a way that will capture and hold their attention is to speak directly to them in normal conversational way.
Somehow, when we think of “preaching” it’s easy to think that we have to use big words and complex expressions.
That’s not the case at all.
Us preachers have built up a pretty big vocabulary of insider words and jargon that are just as confusing to the unchurched.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not telling you to water-down or dumb-down your preaching.
I just want your people to understand it…
Definitely preach the great theological truths from the Word… but please explain them.
If you’re going to talk about the atoning penal propitiation of Christ then, rather than impressing people with your wide ranging vocab, explain what these precious words mean.
Think about your audience when you speak.
Think of your sermon as a conversation—a normal conversation—about God and the Bible.
People will be able to listen better, just like they would in any other kind of conversation.
Always remember that your main job as a preacher is to translate and bring God’s Word to life in the hearts and minds of your congregation.
8. Preach on the same topics all the time
Another surefire way to make your sermons boring is to be a predictable preacher.
Whether it be grace, standing firm in the midst of trials of God’s unconditional love – almost every preacher has a favourite topic they love to preach on.
The best way to avoid being a one-message preacher is to preach the Bible.
In other words, preach the whole thing, not just your favorite passages.
To keep your sermons interesting you should make sure that over the year you mix it up a bit.
Give a your church a balanced and full serving of the Word throughout the calendar year.
There are two ways to get more creativity in your sermon planning:
Not only does this ensure you cover a variety of topics, it gives you time to be creative with your content and to think of relevant illustrations, stories and media.
Most boring sermons are boring because they overwhelm their listeners which too much information.
Boring preachers try to cram as they can into a 30 minute sermon.
If you’ve got a lot of points to cover you might want to consider making it into a monthly sermon series. Instead of having a 4 point sermon, why not make it into a 4 week message series?
Stick to one sermon, one main point.
10. Avoid real life application
“A sermon fails, though it be well presented, biblical and inspiring, if it has no call to action.” [Tweet this]
What is your call to action?
What do you want your church congregation to do with what you’ve said?
You want your people to be doers and not just hearers only. If you don’t know what you want them to do, you’ve got more work to do, your sermon isn’t finished yet.
Here’s a powerful story that John Maxwell shares in his book Everyone Communicates; Few Connect about what Abraham Lincoln once famously said:
“President Abraham Lincoln, an incredible communicator, was known during the Civil War to attend a church not far from the White House on Wednesday nights. The preacher, Dr. Gurley, allowed the president to sit in the pastor’s study with the door open to the chancel so he could listen to the sermon without having to interact with the crowd.
One Wednesday evening as Lincoln and a companion walked back to the White House after the sermon, the president’s companion asked, “What did you think of tonight’s sermon?”
“Well,” Lincoln responded, “it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.”
“So, it was a great sermon?”
“No,” Lincoln replied. “It failed.
It failed because Dr. Gurley did not ask us to do something great.” Inspiring communicators always expect a lot from their listeners.”
“‘The preachers who preach better sermons are the ones who are always learning.” [Tweet this]
So there you have – your guaranteed 10 step guaranteed guide to becoming a boring preacher. I hope you’ve learned something from this : )
Want to Preach Sermons that are captivating, interesting, useful and relevant? Here are 2 quick steps you can take today to help you become the best preacher you can be:
- Do the exact opposite of what the above list tells you to do!
- Check out Preaching Rocket.
If you truly want to see a dramatic improvement in your preaching and claim your Saturdays back from grueling sermon preparation then I’d definitely recommend Preaching Review (click here to see my review).
You’ll learn a simple sermon system that will help you prepare and preach better sermons every Sunday.