I’m finally catching up on my reading and was flipping through November’s Preaching magazine.  There is a quick little article early in this edition titled “What Makes a Preacher ‘Good’” by Ben Mandrell.  Mandrell lists six things that make a preacher good. 

1.  The preacher should give people a bigger picture of God.

2.  The preacher should train people to turn to their Bible when problems arise.

3.  The preacher should show people how to read, study, and handle the Bible for themselves.

4.  The preacher should teach all parts of the Bible and show how unique and wonderful each section truly is.

5.  The preacher should challenge people to own the truth by responding to the message.

6.  The preacher should prove that the Bible is ancient yet speaks to us today.

This is a fine list.  Next Monday I will post a blog I have written that is a deeper critique of this list, but for now, what I got to thinking about is what would my list be?  I use his same “the preacher should” to describe my six.

1.  The preacher should help me laugh at myself.

2.  The preacher should respect the Bible but not be afraid to play with it.

3.  The preacher should be so familiar with his material that notes are not really needed.

4.  The preacher should manuscript the sermon so he or she knows how it ends.

5.  The preacher should have one point around which all the material flows.

6.  The preacher should use variety in delivery and presentation.


If I spent another 30 minutes or so on it, I think I could probably have 15 more “the preacher shoulds.”    I’ll save those for my someday book on homiletics.  But what has me really thinking is what would be the list of six things a preacher should do from the vantage point of the congregation?

1.  The preacher should get to the point.

2.  The preacher should take care not to be too repetitive.

3.  The preacher should take care not to be too repetitive.

4.  The preacher should take, on average, 40% off the sermon. 

5.  The preacher should work the nursery sometimes to think about how it feels.

6.  The preacher should get someone to help him color coordinate his clothes—he is an eyesore.

7.  The preacher should be forced, at gunpoint, to listen to his own sermons.

8.  The preacher should finish on time and be docked in pay if he/she doesn’t.

Okay, that is more than 6 but I was having way too much fun.  But wait.  I’m not quite through.  What do you perceive God’s list, if we could know such a thing, would be of what makes a preacher “Good?”  I have some ideas.  (Note, I have substituted “God” for the personal pronoun, but if it were God thinking, then, well, you get the point.)

1.  The preacher should seek to know what God thinks, not blather what he/she thinks.

2.  The preacher should love God more than preaching about God.

3.  The preacher should resist the temptation to judge success in anything other than faithfulness to the calling.

4.  The preacher should love the people more than he/she loves that the people listen to him/her.

5.  The preacher should preach fewer sermons but better ones—say less mean more.

6.  The preacher should finish on time and be docked in pay if he/she doesn’t.


    • thanks roger and mary jo! i enjoyed writing it. the problem was there were several really good articles in that edition of preaching magazine. i had a hard time finding one to actually blog about.

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