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12 things I hope help me be a better preacher and teacher

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was previously featured on chucklawless.com.

I don’t claim to be a great preacher, but I love to study and proclaim the Word. Below are some things—some that may be surprising—I do that I hope help me with preaching and teaching.

  1. Regularly exercise. A preacher who is not taking care of himself likely won’t have the energy he needs to preach, and his lack of physical discipline might hurt his witness.
  2. Watch the History Channel. Learning history will not only connect you with church members who share that same passion, but it will also provide you ready-made preaching illustrations.
  3. Read books on writing. Preaching and writing are similar tasks. If you want to develop a strong sermon introduction, for example, study about using introductions in writing. The book I’m currently reading is Le Peau’s “Write Better.”
  4. Do a daily crossword puzzle. It doesn’t take long to complete one, and it provides opportunity to increase my vocabulary, review history and learn new facts. Seldom do I not learn something that I can use in preaching.
  5. Journal or write a daily devotion, and send it to someone. Writing a devotion requires clarity, conciseness and application—all good goals for preachers. Sending the devotion to someone is a way of accountability (and witness, if you send it to a non-believer).
  6. Ask students to keep me informed about culture. Our worlds are different, but they keep me informed about things like names of people I should recognize, movies I need to see, books I need to read and preaching heroes I need to hear.
  7. Listen to sermons while I exercise. I generally listen to well-known preachers, but I’ve recently begun listening to sermons by pastors in our local area. That way, I know them better, pray for them and their church, and learn from them.
  8. Take at least one mission trip annually. On the mission field, I’m reminded of our gift of having God’s Word in our language—and stories of God’s work around the world make encouraging, challenging sermon illustrations.
  9. Watch at least one TED Talk weekly. This one’s a newer one for me. These talks are informative, and the speakers pack a lot into a short amount of time. Learning to do the latter will improve our preaching.
  10. Read at least one book on preaching or communication each year. For a list of books our preaching professors at Southeastern Seminary recommend, check out baptistmessenger.com/12-books-on-preaching. Currently I’m reading Alec Motyer’s book, “Preaching.”
  11. Watch or read the news each day. A well-informed preacher is often a better preacher, especially to others who pay attention to what’s happening around the world. Plus, the news offers material for sermon illustrations and prayer emphases.
  12. Secure a group of prayer partners who pray regularly for me—with particular focus on my preaching. Something just happens in your preparation and your preaching when you know others are interceding for you.

Which of these listed ideas might most help you?

Author: Chuck Lawless

Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

View more articles by Chuck Lawless.

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