Ten Steps for Fledgling Preachers

April 27, 2007

What are some helpful steps younger preachers should take in order to grow and develop? I’ve been asked this question recently, so on the bus the other day I jotted down some suggestions. I do this, strictly speaking, as one who is himself a ‘beginner.’

1. Preach, preach, preach
2. Take on a variety of texts (psalms, prophecy, narrative, epistles), but don’t be too brave too early (eg. consecutive studies through Revelation!)
3. Continue to read formal instruction on expository preaching
4. Listen to a variety of good preachers, and learn things from each of them
5. Get feedback
6. Learn something every time, and work on that area next time
7. Pray for conversions
8. Read theology, especially biblical theology
9. Begin with the tried and tested styles of preaching, then begin to adapt to your own style
10. Guard yourself against pride and despondency, the two most common pitfalls

Perhaps you have some other suggestions to add?



  1. I might suggest four broad pointers:

    1) Submit to the authority of the text.
    2) Master the content of the text.
    3) Be mastered by the intent of the text.
    4) Love clarity more than eloquence. Clarity has an eloquence of its own.

    Clarity is essential. When I talk to new preachers (not unlike myself), I try to say something like: “Don’t just think about what you are saying, think about what they are hearing.”

    New preachers tend to get lost in themselves and forget to communicate. There are times when men are concerned with getting through their sermon notes (or a memorized presentation) and they forget that they are speaking to real people. The pride and despondency that Colin rightly pointed out are normally symptoms of thinking about “preaching” more than communicating the text.

    The night before I preach I try to explain the intent/content of the text to my wife in no more than two sentences. If I have that centralized thought in my head when I approach the pulpit, things are normally less stressful and more edifying for everyone.

  2. All great input and thoughts, if I would contribute to it, I would add..

    1. Blogging – written communication has helped me be more clear with my preaching.
    2. Read, Read, Read. Not only theology and preaching, but read broadly. Reading is one thing that has helped me fill the preaching well.
    3. When preaching, be willing to share my life and challenges in the journey.

  3. Great thoughts, I really enjoy your blog.
    I think we also have to be diligent in our pastoral duties. Knowing our congregation intimately helps us adapt our preaching to the context we serve.

  4. As someone who has preached from time to time, these comments are very helpful. As someone who communicates as part of my job, they true of any speaking context, but when dealing with God’s Word, Colin’s 7th and Tim’s 3rd points are very important.

    Sermons have meant most to me when I understood that the preacher had preached and prayed the sermon to himself before he opened his mouth.

    Perhaps I can encourage you regular preachers, who may often look out at a congregation with unexpressive faces. That would be discouraging, but, if the Holy Spirit takes your words and plants them in one person’s heart and brings that person to salvation, or nearer our Lord if a believer, then your job is over. Remember, Paul and Apollos have their roles, but it is the Lord who gives the increase.

  5. Thanks Colin, a very useful and concise list. As one in that catagory I can associate with the need for and relevance of each one of those points.

    A helpful comment given to me was ‘let the sermon deal with you long before you give it in the pulpit’. I find if this takes place, I give a sermon from the heart rather than a talk from the head.


  6. […] Related articles “Open Pulpits?” by Jim Gardiner “10 Steps for Fledgling Preachers” […]

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