Helping Pastors Get Their Mojo Going

Leader Mojo

September 10, 2013

Your First 500 Sermons Will Suck

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Written by: Tony McCollum

If you’re just starting out as a preacher I’ve got some news for you.  Your first 500 sermons will probably suck.  No, actually, they’ll definitely suck.

Now, the good news is that most people won’t notice and, more importantly, God can and will still use use your sucky sermons.

The truth is that nobody except Jesus has ever taught a perfect sermon and you’re probably not going to crack the code during your lifetime either.  You can, however, get better at preaching and, if you apply yourself, you definitely will do that over time.

The Progression of a Preacher

There’s a progression in all this that goes something like this…

  • Imitation:  

    At first, you’ll imitate the preachers you respect that most.  You won’t do this consciously but it will happen.  You won’t be trying to do an impersonation of any other preacher but it will just sort of happen as you strive to figure the whole thing out and look to successful models.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  It’s completely natural.

  • Discovery of Your Voice:  

    Next, somewhere along the three year mark of preaching, you’ll start to find your own voice and in the process you’ll sort of  find yourself too.  You’ll get a feel for what works for you and what doesn’t, technically speaking.  What’s weird is that you’ll finally start to sound like you.

  • Discovery of Your Themes:

    Around this period, you’ll also start to discover the themes that God seems to have designed you to preach.  You’ll become aware of certain topics that just seem to click with your voice, your style, your passions, and your calling.

  • Decision to Improve:

    At this point, you’ll have a decision to make.  Are you comfortable just being proficient at preaching or are you really going to hone your craft?  Growth in your teaching and preaching ability is now no longer largely automatic.  You’re going to have to seriously review and refine what you do.

    You’ll even start to find yourself working on sermon sections AFTER you’ve preached them.  (Yes, you read that right.  You’ll find yourself working on sermon ideas AFTER you preached them because you know you can say it better or with greater impact.)

Malcolm Gladwell tells us in his outstanding book, Outliers: The Story of Success, that it takes 10,000 hours of practice and work to really master any craft.  That sounds about right.  And, for preachers, that probably amounts to somewhere around 500 messages.

So get busy.  Don’t let anything stop you.  If you’re called, then do the hard work of learning how to use every gift God has given you to the best of your ability.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

Do the work.  God will use it, and you will never regret it.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It would also be great if you subscribed to our RSS feed or signed up for email updates to get more goodness. There’s lots more mojo where this came from!

About the Author

Tony McCollum
I'm the senior pastor of Fusion Church. I've been in the ministry for over 20 years. I'm also the founder of many sites such as, and Most importantly, I like ice cream.



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