Podcast Episode 19 | 12 min
Avoiding Preaching Ruts
Tips to become a multi-pitch preacher.
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Matt Woodley: Welcome to Monday Morning Preacher, a podcast dedicated to helping you grow in the beautiful craft of preaching. I’m Matt Woodley, editor of PreachingToday.com and missions pastor at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. I’m also here with our much-beloved guest host Kevin Miller.
Kevin Miller: Whoa, I went from default to much beloved? Was that because I disagreed with you on one episode and now you’re trying to, like, soften me up?
MW: No, it’s only because our ratings went up. So that’s why we love you more. It’s all works righteousness.
KM: I feel that.
MW: So Kevin, I was talking to a friend of my son, John Michael, who is a young baseball prospect named Tomas. Well, Tomas was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays as a pitcher. So I was chatting with him about pitching the other day, and he told me there are basically four main pitches in baseball. Did you know that?
MW: Yeah, I’m sure you did. The fastball, the breaking ball, the change-up or off-speed, and the knuckleball. Those pitches break down into a bunch more pitches like the sinking fastball, or the Vulcan changeup, etc.
KM: Or the 2-seam fastball, the 4-seam … Okay, so I still have some faint hope that this is going to relate to preaching.
MW: We’re getting there. Hold on in this sprawling introduction. Tomas said that some pitchers have a real problem because they only know how to throw one of those pitches. So you might have an amazing sinking fastball, Tomas said, but eventually hitters catch up to you. So I asked him, “You mean pitchers get into a preaching rut?”
KM: You said a preaching rut?
MW: A pitching rut!
KM: A pitching rut. Now I see where this is going.
MW: Preaching rut, like a pitching rut. So here’s what we’re going to talk about today. Preachers don’t get in what I’d call a one-pitch preaching rut. You know, you start sounding exactly the same sermon after sermon. You have the same comfortable sermon outline, the same application, the same tone, the same theological themes. It’s like a pitcher who can only throw a fastball. Everyone knows what’s coming.
KM: So let’s say though that a preacher is very good at that usual pitch, people like that pitch. What’s wrong with a preaching rut?
MW: Well, in one way, nothing because we do have our tendencies and our strengths and we want to operate in that. But on the other hand there’s two things that can be problematic about that. Number one, it gets a little boring for your people that every single sermon is exactly the same format. Secondly, and more importantly though, there is a theological spiritual thing here, and that is that as preachers we can fail to preach what the Apostle Paul called the whole counsel of God. So we narrow our preaching to themes that we’re comfortable with, and in some ways our hearers can remain spiritually stuck and stagnant, and that’s a bad thing.
Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).