1. Don’t tell too many personal stories. An occasional one is ok, but don’t do too many. Your focus should be on God’s story. Especially don’t talk about your kids all the time. In sets them up to be mascots or examples instead of people in the church community.
2. Don’t tell the story of how you came up with the sermon idea. It is cheesy, and rarely adds to the sermon.
3. Don’t switch sides if you are making a comparison. If the old self is the right and the new self is the left, you can’t switch the directions half way through the sermon. If your left hand is the Old Testament and your right is the New Testament, you have to keep them that way. You will have a mutiny if you switch.
4. Don’t tell a joke unless it actually adds to the sermon. Seinfield doesn’t preach. You are not Chris Rock.
5. Don’t overthink your beginning. Most sermons can drop the first page of writing and be totally fine. Get going as quick as you can.
6. Don’t turn every text into a sermon that you believe in. We get it. You believe strongly in a certain cause or message. But if you turn every passage into the same sermon, then you are not reading the text well, or not letting the text read you.
7. Don’t say the same words over and over again. We all get ticks and fillers that we pick up, like people who say “Lord” every fourth word in their prayers (as if they forget who they are talking to) or people who fill every pause with “um” or “right?” Listen to a recording of yourself, and stop it. It drives people crazy. Especially the term “like.”
8. Don’t use Greek or Hebrew words unless they add to the sermon (or are fun to say). It comes across like you are just trying to make yourself look smart. You can talk about what a word means without showing off your seminary education. If they are fun to say, make sure you make the congregation say them too.
9. Don’t preach to an ending then start preaching to another ending. I wrote about this in another blog about LANDING THE PLANE. Don’t start landing your sermon, and just as people think it is ending, you take off on another point. Pick a landing point and land there. End your sermon mercifully.
10. Don’t preach certain biblical passages if you talk with your hands. If you can’t control how you talk with your hands, you are forbidden from preaching Bathsheba, any reference to “and he knew her,” Song of Solomon, Hosea, and especially Galatians 5:12.
Bonus—Never refer to yourself in the shower or the bath. Some of your people are too visually imaginative for that kind of reference.