What can be done about a preacher who puts more effort into delivery than into content?


I worship at a church of Christ and have a concern about the preaching there. The sermons are really for show rather than substance. The preacher seems very pleased with his oratory style raising and lowering his voice and parading up and down in front of the congregation. I have mentioned this to one elder and had a meeting with all of the elders. Their stance was that the preacher was part of the leadership and as long as he was not preaching anything unscriptural, they did not see a reason to intervene. They did agree that some of the sermons were a little light. I know for a fact that several families have left because of the sermons. We have visited several congregations and this one is the closest scripturally that we can find. Is there any scripture that I can make known to the elders about their responsibility to the preaching and teaching in the congregations they oversee?

I really enjoy your web site, especially the questions and answers.


Your question reminded me of an article that I posted not long ago from an old magazine. It was titled, "Alexander Campbell as a Preacher." I posted it more for historical perspective, but what I found interesting was the repeated mention of the strength of Campbell's deliveries even though they lacked the typical theatrics of orators. It reminds me of Paul's self-description, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (I Corinthians 2:1-5).

Sadly, more people see preaching as a form of entertainment. That is why Paul warned, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:2-4). To say that a sermon is light but at least wasn't unscriptural tells a lot about the attitude regarding what preaching is about -- and it isn't good. Sound churches only develop when they are feed with sound doctrine. Toned down sermons will produce toned down churches.

There is a place for preaching which rebukes the listener, "hard preaching" if you will. As our country continues its decline into immorality, we will need more preaching like Jeremiah and Paul. Sometimes when I hear someone claim that a preacher offended them by what he taught, knowing that it was truth I'm tempted to say "It was about time." Hard hearts need hard preaching to penetrate.

Every lesson doesn't need to be deep; there are times lessons need to be presented for those who are new in their faith. Every lesson doesn't need to be hard; preaching is a balance of rebukes and encouragements. But a constant diet of soft preaching will lead to a congregation's decline. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:12-14).

Hopefully this and the articles I linked to in this reply will give you some ideas to encourage everyone to seek more from the lessons presented.