What to Avoid in Preaching
A Lecture on Preaching Pitfalls
As the proclamation of God’s word is the task of every preacher, certain things must be avoided. These things creep into the preaching ministry and detract the man from his work. In this sermon titled “What to Avoid,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues his lectures on preaching and preachers and begins with a few observations on radio preaching. As this grew in popularity during his day, the radio posed new problems for the preacher which led to a sense of professionalism in the pulpit. The preacher must not be bound by time, always watching himself, tremendously interested in techniques. In contrast to this performance, he must forget himself as the Spirit leads his preaching. Other things to avoid in the pulpit include intellectualism and an affinity for too many polemics in the pulpit––always preaching what one is against as opposed to what one is for. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns against an imbalance between exposition and exhortation. Some preachers expose the Scriptures with no exhortation to the people. Other preachers burden the people with exhortation with little exposition. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains what preachers must avoid, listen in and be challenged by his primary concern that the people of God receive the word of God in a manner that is clear.
- The preacher should avoid professionalism which leads to a routine and detached attitude.
- The preacher should avoid displaying knowledge or relying solely on preparation. The work of the Holy Spirit is essential.
- The preacher should avoid pride which takes many forms like displaying gifts, becoming a "character", or seeking popularity.
- The sermon should avoid too much intellect, emotion, exhortation, or polemics. Balance is needed.
- Polemics should be used carefully and lead to winning others, not just attacking. It can ruin a ministry if overused.
- Irony and ridicule should usually be avoided. They can easily be misunderstood.
- In delivery, avoid calling attention to yourself through running, smiling, greeting, joking or an affected voice and style.
- Be natural, forget yourself, and be absorbed in the message, occasion, and presence of God.
Sermons: Preaching and Preachers
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.