First Steps For Fledgling Preachers

March 18, 2009

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?

(repost from April 2007)



  1. I would say that of paramount importance is the need to develop pastoral preaching, i.e. get to know the people to whom you are called to minister and that will inform your preaching.

    As John Stott notes: you need to exegete the audience as well as the Bible text.

  2. My answer is pretty much the same as the comment above:

    counsel, counsel, counsel.

    The more I have gotten involved in people’s lives, the better I have been able to minister the Word to the specific flock of people God has called me to serve.

  3. Get into the habit of prayer being an integral part of your preparation AND follow up (i.e. pray afterwards too – one of the most neglected parts of prayer and preaching in the life of a pastor).

    Oh, and know when to say “enough.” CJ Mahaney is very good on this. Don’t stay up all night Saturday reworking and reworking. Your material always looks better in the morning anyway.

  4. Leonard Ravenhill in ‘Why revival tarries’ says ‘pray for two hours a day’. Not many preachers do that. Also, don’t try to preach like someone else is fairly good advice but in my experience it takes some time to find your own voice.

  5. Eat, sleep and drink at least one of the languages.

  6. Could I question the first one (preach, preach, preach)?

    I started preaching when in first year at uni, and preached fairly regularly throughout my undergrad years. One summer I spent three months preaching three times a week, every week.

    If I could give my younger self some advice, it would be to preach less and reflect more. I hit the ground running – with no overall redemptive hermeneutic, no real knowledge of exegesis, the original languages etc – and as a result, quickly established homiletical norms that were not good. Bad habits are easier to make than break!

    It took a lot of work at seminary to develop my preaching simply because I had done so much preaching beforehand.

  7. I think your biblical theology plug is a good one. Too often we may get tunnel vision in a book and forget the overall biblical narrative to which that individual book connects. And further, how that book (and passage) attends to the overall goal of glory of God through redemptive history.

    A good and helpful list; I linked to it today.

  8. Very helpful.

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