3 Signs Your Preacher Doesn’t Stink

Francis Chan is one of the most famous bald preachers in America today. He also kills it every time out. Great preacher.

Preachers come in all shapes and sizes. Some wear robes, others rock the three-piece, and an increasing amount sport jeans behind the pulpit. Some men of the cloth are bald, while biker church pastors might possess a pony tail. A disturbing amount have enough product in their hair to choke a dinosaur.

What your preacher looks like doesn’t make much difference. But the way they preach matters much. Here are three ways to make sure your preacher is getting the job done:

1. They Talk About Jesus a Lot

Jesus was, is, and will always be the point. If your preacher doesn’t mention Jesus very often, he’s probably not preaching. Unless of course he’s talking about how much he hates Jesus, which is kind of a dead give-away that he’s a bum and probably should be fired. It’s good to talk about Adam and Noah and Abraham and Moses. It’s good to talk about Sarai/Sarah, Ruth, Esther, and Mary. Any of the Mary’s are good, actually.

But if your preacher doesn’t make it all about Jesus, then you’ve got to wonder what Bible he is reading. Jesus is the star of the show. The Gospel’s central character is the great God-man: the eternal, incarnated, perfect, sacrificed, resurrected, ascended, enthroned Savior of His creation.

This is Charles Spurgeon. Kind of a big deal in preaching circles.

This is Charles Spurgeon. Kind of a big deal in preaching circles.

2. They Use the Bible a Ton

Videos are awesome and story telling is great. Those are both tools every preacher should have in their shed. But they should pull them off the wall every once in a while, and only to illustrate solid Bible teaching. Here are some things your preacher should say more often than not:

  • “The Bible says…”
  • “Get out your Bibles and turn to…”
  • “This isn’t my opinion, it’s in the Bible…”
  • “Do you have a Bible with you? You should have a Bible. We’ll use it every week.”
  • “Open up your Bible app…”

Sermons that bounce from Scripture to Scripture are good so long as the preacher isn’t just cherry-picking and taking stuff out of context to support an un-Scriptural point. Even better are sermons that take a big chunk of Scripture and dissect it like a frog in freshman biology class, exposing the text for all it has to offer.

If you go to a church and they never ask you to open your Bible, you may want to consider going to another church.

3. They Don’t Have All the Answers

Since Kindergarten we’ve all disliked know-it-all’s. There are a lot of know-it-all preachers out there who are so insecure that they are afraid to say, “I’m not sure about that.” Like a five year old who’s afraid they’ll get made fun of for not knowing the answer, they hardly ever stop talking. Humility is present in a preacher when they confess struggling with a passage of Scripture they’re teaching on.

Jonathan Edwards preached the famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Cool robe, Jon.

Jonathan Edwards preached the famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Cool robe, Jon.

If you’ve never heard your preacher say, “I’ll have to do some studying and get back to you on that,” or “I’m not sure…what do you think,” that’s at least a yellow flag and maybe a red. When a preacher claims their own position or authority in covering a tough topic instead of acknowledging the mystery of the text or confessing they might be wrong, alarms should be ringing in your ears. No one is perfect. No one can know everything. No one can explain all of the Scripture like a mathematical formula. Seek humility in the preachers you’re listening to. Self-depricating humor, lack of built-up walls, and a willingness to not play the expert are signs that your preacher understands they don’t know everything–and they don’t have to.

Trade Offs

No preacher can do it all. It’d be great if every preacher could do the above three things (which I consider the most important three qualities a preacher can possess) and be tall, dark, handsome, well-educated, with a deep, soothing radio voice that makes you feel perfectly at ease without putting you to sleep.

David Platt may be boyishly handsome, but he is also one of the boldest preaching voices in the church today.

David Platt may be boyishly handsome, but he is also one of the boldest preaching voices in the church today.

I’m tall. My arms are dark in the summer when my farmers tan sets in. My wife thinks I’m handsome (I think). Aside from that I’m balding and our sound guys say my voice is a little “nasal-y,” which is impossible for me to take as a compliment. Your preacher probably isn’t perfect, either. If he appears perfect on stage get to know his wife and ask her and you’ll soon learn otherwise.

Bottom line: trading perfect hair for a guy that talks about Jesus is a trade you should make any day of the week and twice on Sunday. If your pastor has a bunch of Twitter followers, awesome. Even better is if you rarely see him without his Bible. And if your church bulletin announces him as “Dr.,” praise God for higher education. Still superior is a person who admits when they don’t have the answer.

What do you think? What is your preacher like? What do you love? What do you wish preachers knew their congregation could care less about? Feel free to share.

Thanks for reading.

4 comments

  1. Great piece Titus. I love a bold preacher. One that will “tell it like it is” Instead of trying to make people feel better about themselves (Chandler, Driscoll, Pratt, Chan, Washer, etc.). Great stuff man keep it up.

  2. I raised our preacher, but he got most of his preaching skills from his grandpa. I am proud to say that your 3 signs are there in his preaching, as they are in yours. You are absolutely right–preaching should be about Jesus and making the hearers better disciples, not trying to be a Christian Oprah.

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