Religion Magazine

My Not-to-do List

By Richardl @richardlittleda


As a preacher, you would imagine that I have a fairly extensive ‘to-do’ list on a Sunday. After all, at some point today I shall have one hundred or so people looking in my direction and hoping for some kind of authentic word of God. Some want to be encouraged, some challenged, some nurtured and all want to be heeded. However, I have an equally long ‘not to do list’:

  • Pander – although I am there to meet people’s needs as a preacher, I do not want to cater for any one person’s need or interest to the exclusion of another.
  • Quail – think too hard about the enormity of the task – speaking an authentic word from God to a group of hungry people – and no preacher would ever do it again.
  • Entertain – preachers should do their best to captivate people – to capture their attention and keep it for the duration of the sermon. However, if we do that for our own ends or because we get a ‘buzz’ out of it – something is wrong.
  • Dazzle – no matter how much research or homework has gone into the sermon, a preacher who leaves the congregation astonished by her or his cleverness has missed the point.
  • Bully – I hate to use the word, but some preaching which seeks by every means to bend the congregation to the preacher’s will can be called nothing else.
  • Shirk – with all the restrictions above, it is easy to cave in and preach something old, or something which ‘will do’. It won’t.
  The view from an empty pulpit

The view from an empty pulpit

I leave you with the words of a former president of Methodist Conference, Russell Maltby:

‘Having a heavy charge the preacher needs a light heart – let him not look any more miserable than he must’

Happy Sunday!


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