It’s guaranteed. If you don’t hold the interest of your congregants while preaching, not a few of them will focus on odd things about you – your tie choice (that’s been solved by ditching the tie altogether), other clothing and the like. No one has complained about a tie I wore except my wonderful wife, but then if someone gives you a tie you have to wear it at least once, no matter how ugly.
I’ve been a bored listener at times over the past decades and have affectionate, irreverent, yet truthful observations about the quirky preaching habits of my fellow soldiers of the Lord.
There’s the bouncing Brother Bobby type. Sure I get the idea of conveying energy, enthusiasm, and erudition all at the same time but what’s this habit of bouncing on the balls of your feet all through the sermon? Up. Down. Up. Down. Up, up, up. Down. It’s like watching a vertical tennis match. I can’t help but think that this is learned, emulative behavior. There must be some high profile guys who do this. It’s annoying after a bit. But, let ‘er rip guys. I suppose it burns extra calories and if there’s any cohort that needs to burn some calories and lose weight it’s the rotund reverends.
Alliterative outlines. You saw what I did in the paragraph above, huh? Alliteration is a nice literary technique at times, mainly whenever I use it, but these exaggerated, habitual alliterative outlines seem so artificial. If a man from Mars was called to preach, given a Bible and told to take a passage, outline it for a 30 minute message, and preach it, would the green-eyed, oval headed Martian spout an alliterative outline? Nah. I figure Adrian, who did it well, is the blame.
When one of the alliteration-loving brethren offer an explanation for the habit, most often they say something like, “It helps my people remember the sermon.”
Hogwash. They might remember the outline, not the text, explanation, or application. I’ve seen people who take notes on sermons in their bibles. What they have are the silly alliterative bullet points, not much about Scripture. The apostle Paul was “rich, real, and relevant” in a hundred different passages from the epistles.
Odd mannerisms. I made the mistake once of asking a guest preacher about an odd thing he did while preaching. This was a younger guy and I felt I had some room to offer kindly advice. If the oddity was picking his nose, I would have been direct and firm. He avoided that but would, after almost every phrase or two, make an audible click with his tongue sucking off the roof of his mouth. Maybe he descended from the Xhosa people or others that communicate by clicking noises. Probably not. He just annoyed everyone who was in the congregation by clicking, and annoyed them again by skipping the clicking pattern when people were sure it was to come. Either way it distracted from his message and he was a decent preacher of the Word. He looked at me like I had three eyes when I brought it up.
Lying a lot. You already know this: “Finally…” “As I close…” Liar!
Women, female, and wife jokes. Brethren, can we let those pass. You can tell a wife joke if she gets equal time after you are finished. Dumb.
Gratuitous wordiness. Not long sermons. I’m perfectly happy to listen to a 45 minute sermon if the preacher has 45 minutes of things to preach. I’m unhappy to listen to a 10 minute sermon expanded to fill up 45 minutes. Egad, 35 minutes of my life totally wasted. Even the silly practice of saying “Thank you so very, very much” instead of “thank you” or “thanks” grates on me. The guy who offers that wordy bit of gratitude has about two-thirds extra words. Bet he also takes a 15 minute sermon and makes it 45 in the same way. Waste someone else’s time.
And I’m not touching tattoos here. Not watching them either.
Having difficulty? I hear people sell sermons. See if Jesus would flip that table.
But, as Adrian once said, “It’s perfectly OK to blow your nose while preaching, just use a handkerchief. But if you look at it after you blow to see what ya got, you won’t be my friend anymore.”
And I hate to distract our dear readers from the splendid and serious offerings we’ve had here lately. But, you cannot survive as an SBC pastor without humor. Some of the dour Cals are trying it but they will eventually crash and burn.