In my sermon consulting work, one of the deficiencies that I often find in sermons is that they often have a sermon that is more than one sermon. Preaching more than one sermon causes listener fatigue as they mentally attempt to make one sermon out of what is more than one sermon. Often they simply give up and wait until the “whoop” or the celebration.

Don’t Drain The Members

I remember speaking with a member of a church that had a pastor who regularly preached more than one sermon. The member told me that he couldn’t put his finger on it, but the pastor’s sermons were hard to listen to. The preacher was animated, attempted great congregational participation, and preached very hard, but there was something missing. The thing that was missing is one main point to his sermons. The people just got tired.

Avoid More Than One Sermon

Now more than one sermon can creep into our preaching very subtly. This can happen in a number of ways.

  • You can preach more than one sermon by allowing irrelevant side points. This is a very common way to preach more than one sermon. You have read a lot of material to get ready for this sermon. There is a temptation to make use of that very juicy point or that very good story or that very important piece of exegesis. However, if it doesn’t fit the current sermon, then you could easily introduce a “whole nuther sermon” that will distract the hearers from the original sermon and cause them to attempt to attempt to make this irrelevant point relevant to your main sermon.

    This is an easy fix, don’t introduce anything in your sermon unless it contributes to the sermon’s point.

  • You can preach more than one sermon by emphasizing minor points greater than larger points. This is another common deficiency related to the previous one. Here we found that great point, but we preach that sub-point so heavily that it becomes stronger than the main point. Sub-points must support the main point. But we can easily fall into the trap of emphasizing the sub point greater than the larger point. Then we end up in trouble.

    The key here is to keep in mind what your main point is so that you can use your sub-points to emphasize them.

  • The points are not related to each other. This is a very common deficiency especially for those who preach a “three points and a poem”-like message. Here the preacher finds three unrelated points and then preaches them and sits down. If the three points are not related to each other in any way, you have preached three sermons. Always remember it is easier for your people to remember and live out one main point rather than three main points. So you have one main point and your three points support that main point.

    An easy way to not fall into this trap is to have a “guiding question” that your sermon answers. Here your points answer that question. More information on this can be found in my kindle book “Three Points and a Poem.”

  • You can preach more than one sermon by not “taming” your illustrations. Now this is a very common problem. We will tell a story that may be relevant to our sermon, however the way we tell the story can introduce many irrelevant details or points that may distract from the message.

    When you tell a story in your sermon, make sure to emphasize the details in the sermon that are relevant to your topic. Emphasize the details in the story that support your sermon’s point.

Everything Supports Your Main Point

In the final analysis, we preach one sermon by having one major point. We then make sure that everything that we add to the message supports that main point. Then your people may agree or disagree, but at least they know what you attempted to communicate in the message.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Preach More Than One Sermon

  1. Lorraine Jones says:

    Wow… I love listening to preaching and treasure those persons who have prepared and as well are gifted in presentation. The sermon tells the story and presents the message that the preacher believes/knows is needed for the audience being addressed.I have noticed that when a preacher is the guest, the sermon within a sermon phenomenon happens more often perhaps because he/she does not know “when” or “if” there will be a return engagement. So you can fall into the trap of “giving the people all you’ve got” because this may be the last time. When the preacher is a Pastor, there is a tendency to present advertisements for the upcoming series of sermons he/she may be working on as a way of garnering interest and building a case for the importance of not missing one installment. When this is done in the middle of the current sermon, it can leave the listener wondering more about what the next sermon will be rather than focusing on the message at hand. Another tendency I have observed is that the “sideline caveats” that can often overshadow the “main point” may be the preacher’s way of addressing an issue or past hurt to a captive audience under the guise of “the Lord said” or if “you were the Lord” how would you judge. Sermons are birthed from human vessels who are trying to attentuate a perfect God’s Word to imperfect people. As preachers, we have to first preach ourselves out of the way so that the Lord’s intent is what is heard rather than our working out of “our stuff” at the people’s expense.

  2. Excellent article. Preaching more than one sermon is something I hear many preachers do. Thanks for the part on “‘taming’ your illustrations.” I had not really thought about the possibility of the illustration introducing points that are irrelevant to the message. Using illustrations from modern settings add much relevance to the message . . . it helps the listener to connect how the Scriptures fit into their every day life and see that what was written centuries ago is still viable for today’s generation. And yet, it is important to keep the illustration focused on helping one understand the point of the message. Again, a great article.

  3. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Pastor Bruce Leonard,

    Yes, if one is not careful one can easily introduce a lot of stuff that the preacher does not even want to address if one uses the wrong illustration. Illustrations are powerful and their power is why they can go where you don’t want them to go. Tame them…

    thanks for your comment…

  4. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Pastor Lorraine Jones,

    You have brought out points that I had not considered…The “giving all you got” is always a temptation for preachers either who do not get up there often or are guests.

    The advertising future sermons is another interesting idea. I think that there is a time for that, but not during the sermon when you are trying to preach what you are preaching in this sermon.

    And that “sideline caveats” is always a temptation…especially when the preacher wants to address something that may not warrant or need a whole sermon. Just make sure that the sideline is relevant.

    Thanks for furthering our conversation…

  5. Very good, most books on preaching agree that a sermon should have one central idea, major point or theme derived from the biblical passage. H. Grady Davis calls it “The Central Thought”, John Broadus calls it the “Proposition”, Haddon Robinson uses the term the “Big Idea”, Paul Scott Wilson calls it the “Major Concern”, Bryan Chapell calls it “Fallen Condition Focus”, and Ramesh Richard calls it the “Central Proposition of the text (CPT)”.

  6. Sylvester Warsaw, Jr. says:

    Elder Cox,

    Thank you for your insights. As, I, read this article the Holy Spirit put in my spirit that this happens when self is in the way you’re trying to impress people instead of pleasing God and being submissive to the leading of the Spirit of God. It’s one thing to be prepared and another to be over-prepared. That’s why prayer is critical in the preparation and preaching of God’s Holy Word.

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