5 Words to Avoid in Sermons

The Gospel Coalition | 8/22/2019 | Jason K. Allen
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Preaching is God’s ordained method to convey his Word and build his church. As such, preaching is every pastor’s principal responsibility and every church’s primary need. Therefore, every pastor must preach, and preach well, every Lord’s day.

However, good sermons, like good meals, do not just happen. They are intentionally crafted by bringing together essential elements. In the case of preaching, one essential element is key words. Determining which words to add and which to subtract is an indispensable component of sermon preparation.

Certain - Words - Sermon - Conversely - Words

Certain words will strengthen most any sermon. Conversely, some words weaken the sermon. If used at all, they should be used knowingly and sparingly.

Here are five words that almost always weaken sermons.

Thing - Peeve - Mine - H - B

“Thing” has long been a pet peeve of mine. That is why I was so pleased to see H. B. Charles address this issue in his helpful book On Preaching: “Get ‘things’ out of your sermon. . . . The word is nonspecific. The more specific you are, the more compelling your ideas will be. So try other key words instead.

Give four reasons why believers should pray.

State - Requirements - Discipleship

State three requirements for Christian discipleship.

Share five benefits of forgiving people who have wronged you.

Describe - Dynamics - Church

Describe the dynamics of a healthy church.

Explain the signs of true conversion.

Principles - Practice - Spouse

Present three principles to practice for loving your spouse.

Warn of the dangers of living selfishly.

Charles - Things - Helpful—its - Versatility - Clarity

Charles is right. What makes “things” helpful—its flexibility—also makes it weak. It has so much versatility it lacks clarity and force. A word that can mean so much usually means very little.

Preaching is to be text-based, derived from the Word of God. Thus, by definition it is objective and authoritative, and arrives as a certain, sure word. The instinct to stipulate “This is just my opinion,” therefore, should send off alarm sirens in the preacher’s mind.


This need to clarify, “This is just my...
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