Kevin DeYoung offers ten things he has learned:

1. Beware of preaching all your battles from seminary.
2. Be careful with offhanded comments.
3. Be yourself.
4. Remember there are different kinds of people listening.
5. Don’t let personal conflict creep into your message.
6. Make sure your best stuff is from the text.
7. Be a pastor for the whole church, not just part of it.
8. Don’t give them the whole elephant.
9. Root for others and don’t compare.
10. Tell your congregation you love them and are glad to be their pastor.

Here is his talk on this at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, though he doesn’t follow all the order of the above.

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5 thoughts on “10 Lessons I Learned From My Mistakes in Preaching”

  1. Aaron says:

    As all great preachers do, Rev. DeYoung said he had 15 or 20 minutes and then took 39. He is a true preacher :)

  2. Aaron says:

    I stand corrected. . . Q and A. . . . Well done Rev. DeYoung!

  3. Slimjim says:

    Wow thank you for this, these are good points for a young preacher like myself

  4. Regarding #10: Not being a pastor, it’s rare that I get to preach. The pastor of a church near me called on me to fill his pulpit for the first time a few years ago. I’ve been back a few times since then, although lately they have a member of their congregation who is a student at G-C who has been filling in. But the first time I was asked to fill the pulpit I stepped up and looked over the congregation and paused. The beauty of the Bride of Christ compelled me to tell them that they were a beautiful congregation. The look of pleasant surprise on the faces of the congregation was as the blush of a fair maiden. In a real way, I envy preaching pastors who are called to be like the servant in Genesis 24 to go and call out the bride of his master.

    I know that many congregations abuse their pastors and there are congregants in every church who give their pastors all kinds of heartburn. But there is a beauty that transcends the deepest issues. I can’t approach the pulpit on the occasions I am called to do so without fearing that I might unintentionally mislead people who belong to my Master. So many of the rest of the points are handled by an attitude afforded by #10. So when I study a text to preach it, I want to make sure I convey to the best of my ability what God wants his people to know.

  5. Curt Day says:

    I would like to add one other lesson and this has come from listening to sermons. Have confidence in the Gospel when preaching. That confidence will help the preach know when not to try to hard with explanations and illustrations.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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