The Four Be’s of Preaching

The Four Be’s of Preaching

Below is a summary of four of the most important things to remember when preparing a sermon.

  1. Be Biblical – It should go without saying that your message should be solidly based on Scripture. Unfortunately, in this day and age it does need to be said. I cannot tell you how many sermons I have heard that are based on opinion, culture, or entertainment, with only scant mention of Scripture. If the Bible is not the foundation of your preaching, you are not preaching, you’re just giving a speech.
  2. Be Intentional – I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke about the preacher who “went everywhere preaching the Gospel.” The reference is to preachers who cannot stay on point and go chasing rabbits throughout their message. There should be one main purpose to every sermon you preach, even if there are several points to the message that help you to convey that purpose. Read through the teachings of Jesus and you will discover, without fail, He always had one purpose and He never wavered from it – not even once!
  3. Be Relational – You must move from the text to the lives of your hearers. Scriptural preaching without application is only taking your audience to the halfway point. You must explain to your listeners how the text applies to their everyday lives and then challenge them to make that application. We want to take people from knowing the truth, to living the truth.
  4. Be Brief – While I’m sure to get some disagreement from this statement, in most situations you should not preach for more than 30 minutes. If you cannot get your message across in that amount of time, you might want to rewrite your sermon, or split it into a short series. While we might not have the full text of Jesus’ sermons, we know that what we do have are very brief, to the point sermons which honor the time of those He was speaking to.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but it should help you to better plan your sermons and can be used as a grid through which you test your messages to see if they fit this pattern. I can guarantee you that if you actually apply these four “be’s” to your sermons you will see a dramatic increase in the response of your listeners.

I’d love to hear your comments below!


Barry L. Davis


Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1997. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles.


Should I Practice My Sermon Delivery?

Should I Practice My Sermon Delivery?

By Barry L. Davis

When I first began preaching I was extremely nervous. I had no experience in public speaking and was terrified to stand in front of a crowd. My first sermon took place while I was a freshman in Bible College. A fellow student had a weekend ministry at a rural church and asked me to fill in for him one Sunday. Once I had all my notes together I had my wife sit on the bed in our room at the back of our mobile home, stacked up some books on top of a dresser to use as a makeshift pulpit, and asked her to sit and listen to me while I practiced my sermon. She said it was good, but I knew she was just being nice.

Soon afterward I was able to acquire my own weekend ministry and even lived in the parsonage next to the church. Every Saturday I would take my notes over to the church, stand behind the pulpit, and practice my sermon with the empty pews in front of me. As I preached I would make notations in my manuscript whenever I felt a change was needed. By the time Sunday came around I stood there with pages of typewritten notes with handwritten scrawls in the margins, words crossed out, and sometimes even reminders to pause – all of this was the result of my practice, and it worked well for me.

While these days I do not practice from the pulpit, or from a stack of books in the bedroom, I still go over my notes in my office, and oftentimes I will use a stand or something else at hand that will be close in height to the pulpit I’ll use on Sunday. I generally go over my notes on Saturday evening and again early Sunday morning. And just like the old days, I keep my pen handy and make changes as I go.

So, should you practice your sermon before you preach? I believe that you should. Let me share some reasons why:

  1. Your word choices will be clarified. – Some of the words that come from your mind through your keyboard do not translate well when you say them out loud. Hearing your sermon will help you know for sure whether you’ve made the right choices.
  2. Your timing will improve. – The cadence of your sermon is more important than many people realize. Practicing your sermon will help you to build a rhythm that will help your audience to track with you and what you are trying to say.
  3. You will not need to rely on your notes as much. – Your practice time will make you more familiar with your message, which means you will not need to look at your notes nearly as often.
  4. You will learn what to emphasize. – As you speak the words out loud, the concepts and truths that need the most emphasis will become clear to you. Many times they are different than what you thought they should be when you were writing down your notes.
  5. You will know what to cut. – There will be words, phrases, and entire sections of your message that you will find just don’t work. Often illustrations that seemed perfect on the written page just don’t flow with the message when spoken out loud.
  6. Your confidence will grow. – When the words start flowing and changes are made, you will become more and more assured of the message God is giving you to deliver. You have prayed, studied, initially planned your message, and now have refined it to the point that you know it will have a powerful impact on your hearers.
  7. You will gain a brand new perspective. – I’m going to add a new wrinkle here: You need to occasionally record your sermon (preferably on video) while you practice and also when you deliver it to the church. This will help you to hear and see the same thing as your audience. You will hear and see some things that you don’t like – but that is a good thing – because it will help you to know specifically what types of things you need to change.

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions below!



Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1997. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles.


  • Dr Raymond Clayton

    A great read and so True.

    • Dr. Joanne Ward

      I definitely practice (read over and over again) mines even after 15 years. Every point you made is true and that is why I continue to do so.

  • After 23 years, I still occasionally do this. It helps in all of the ways you’ve described and more.

  • Todd Moore

    As a. New minister I do practice and all my messages are taped and I watch them and man I’m. My own worst critic ! I hope I’m getting better! But practice does help me tremendously… Great article thank you Barry for all you do for gods ministry !

  • SB

    Good read. I usually do an out loud read Thursday mornings for many of the 7 reasons you listed and again on Saturday at home. Lots of ink and revisions every time.

    One thing I try to focus in on is the heart behind it. You touched on this in point 4. I want to make sure if there is an important point, or a hard to hear truth, the heart and spirit behind it is proper. Sometimes zeal or passion can come across as aggressive or anger…doing a “practice” read can help ensure proper tone is used as well.

  • Dr Ron Sweeney

    Yes having established the Sermon Theme I will work out the broad outline early in the week and then pray and re-visit it during the next few days. I sometimes print out a draft version to see what looks and “feels like” but the final version is never printed out until the Saturday. Then on the Sunday morning I will re-read it first thing and usually find things to amend. Finally before leaving for the church I will listen to the News to ensure I haven’t missed something important..

    An important part is that whilst the congregation sing a pre-sermon hymn I will pray on the lines of ” God I have done my homework and used my brain to the best of my ability but please may the Holy Spirit be present to guide and inspire …….etc

  • I usually do an outline of what I believe the message is from our Lord as He laid on my heart. I will type in bold major points I believe must be emphasized. I know the scriptural address and rely on how I am lead as to what the message is. Many times He changes it after I step into the pulpit and then it is strictly on God power, none of my own, and that is what I love best. Generally God will bring the message to where we live today or how the scripture applies today. I have never rehearsed a message out loud but I have gone over a message multiple times before I would get into the pulpit. For me, typing the message allows for me to keep on what I am lead to deliver and keep it in outline form and let God do the rest.

  • Mary E. Mitchell

    I have been preaching for six years. Yes, I do write and practice my sermon before I deliver it. All the comments in the above replies are true. When I first started preaching, I practiced my sermon with my husband listening. He gave me positive feedback. But, now I don’t practice with him any longer, but I read and practice with myself several times before delivering the sermon. Study to show thy self approved.

  • GodChaser

    Awesome read pastor d, points are simple and clear to implement. Great helps in mentoring!
    Your Servant in Christ,

  • Very true Pastor!! And effective!!!

  • Bishop Loknauth Persaud

    Dear Barry your comments/advice that preachers should practice their sermons before actually preaching them is both important and timely.For as long as I can remember I always practice my sermons even while writing them,pausing ever so often to read them aloud.My daughter who would hear me sometimes would think I am talking to myself, and would say “stop talking to yourself”Glad for this reminder and to know that I am not going mad when I say my sermon out loud while preparing.

  • Steven Hicks

    Great information Barry, I am a big fan of your work and have purchased a number of your well done tools. I am not a minister but have been involved in my Church in many capacities and hope to one day become a pastor regularly giving sermons and presentations guided by the Lord! I have been a senior level executive for many years and also became a certified speaker, trainer and coach through the John Maxwell Group. I am hopeful that the opportunity will present itself in a more formal manner! Thanks again Barry! – Steve

  • John Davis

    Thank for the lesson here, I am in my first pastorate and struggle at times. I rely on my notes too much is what my wife tells me. I too read over it several times and make changes as lead. I will take your advice and do a “dry run” and see how that goes.

Priorities in Preaching

One comment

  • Rev. John Davis

    Facts are the truth hurts. Some Preachers today are worried more about hurting someone’s feelings than putting the word of God out there as it is written. Sin is sin and if you do not repent and accept forgiveness from Jesus then you are doomed. I fear political correctness has overtaken many a pulpit. I pray I never become “politically correct”.

The Four R’s of Preaching

The Four R’s of Preaching


Facing the task of sermon preparation each week can be daunting for any preacher. It can also, over time, become a monotonous burden if we let it. While there are those rare individuals who never lose their fire, and continuously produce God-inspired sermons with never a hiccup, that is not the case with most of us. The sad truth is that some of us fall into a pattern of preaching that might “get the job done,” but somehow lose our purpose in the process.

Some of us need to be reminded of the great calling God has given us and remember the privilege we have to address a group of people each week, no matter the size, who are hungry for a Word from God and are expecting us to deliver it.

Consider the following statement from the great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“The work of preaching is the highest and greatest and most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”

If that declaration is true, and I believe it is, we need to always keep that calling from God at the forefront of our minds and hearts as we prepare to address those under our care each week. To help us do that, I am proposing Four R’s of Preaching that should stand as a reminder and a guide for those of us who are privileged to share God’s Word from the pulpit.

1. Reverence

I have noticed a lack of reverence coming from some of our pulpits. Sometimes a preacher will allow the message to be more about him than it is about God. We need to approach the task of preaching with an understanding that we are mere spokespersons for the Great and Mighty Creator of the Universe.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. – Hebrews 12:28 (ESV)

While preparing our messages and while preaching them, we must remember Who it is we are doing this for, and make sure that He features prominently in our message. We are not calling people to follow us, but our God and Savior. We must come to the sacred text and to the pulpit with a sense of awe and wonder, as well as with recognition that God is watching every word that we utter.

2. Responsibility

We are given a great responsibility. God has called us to lead men and women to His Son, Jesus Christ. He has also called us to teach and disciple those who have already accepted His wonderful offer of salvation. This is not something to be taken lightly. When we are preparing our messages we need to always remember to give the time and effort necessary to communicate God’s will clearly.

If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously… – Romans 12:8b (NLT)

The preacher who takes this responsibility seriously will always makes sure to be prepared, to have studied diligently, to have prayed fervently, and to have the needs of the people and God’s solution to those needs at the forefront of every sermon.

3. Respect

If you do not respect the people you are speaking to, not only will they pick up on it, they will turn a deaf ear to everything you have to say. I am well aware that some of the people in the audience might be people who have done you or your family wrong, or given you reasons not to have much respect for them. I get it, I really do!

On the other hand, even if you can’t respect the person, you can respect the message God has given to you and deliver it in a way that is meant to lift people up, rather than bring them down. Consider that those who may have wronged you need this most of all.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10 (ESV)

When you show honor to those in your congregation by showing respect to them, to God, and to His Word, you will have come a long way toward leading others toward spiritual insight and personal growth.

4. Restraint

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:27 (ESV)

There are at least two ways we can apply this:

1) There is a great temptation for some preachers to deliver personal rebukes from the pulpit. Rather than confront a person in private, during the sermon they will bring up something this person has done wrong and then go on the attack. They normally won’t mention the person by name, but everyone knows who they are talking about. Don’t do this…EVER! There is nothing wrong with confronting sin from the pulpit, and we are called to do just that, but never, ever, do it in a personal way, or in a way meant to embarrass or demean an individual. If you need to deal with a problem, take the person out to coffee or meet in your office and discuss it one-on-one.

2) To use an old term, some ministers “go everywhere preaching the Gospel” from the pulpit. They have trouble sticking with one subject and go from one topic to the other, never really landing on anything solid. Here is something to remember – when you go into the pulpit, have one point. You might have three steps to this or four reasons for that, but there must be an overarching thought or purpose that you want to get across. Don’t stray from that. You don’t need to preach the whole Bible every week.

This week, as you prepare for the weekend, make sure and remember the Four R’s! It will help you more than you can know, and you will become a better preaching in the process.


I welcome your comments below.


Barry L. Davis


Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.





  • Ron

    Thank you for the gift of the 4 Rs. It has blessed me, as I am in my 2nd year as a minister. Your information is so helpful. I use your sermon outline series as well. Blessings my brother!

  • Thank, I have been blessed by, the reverence to God in preaching responsibility, restraints and respect. My pastor Matthew Ashimolowo always use these sequence.
    I have books God is laying on my heart to write but funding, I do not know where it will come from.

  • Victor Ogbodo

    A great resource and reference point!

  • Thank you very much May God continue to Bless you and your Ministry.

  • Rev Stenneth Davis

    I have found this information so useful, thanks for your continued help.

  • Billy Joe Lockett

    Thank you so very much. The four Rs that you made known to us that read and understand what you I am sure it’s of the Holy Spirit is right on time. This Sunday I willn’t change what God has given me but my heart is at ease with what I am to preach on Sunday.Thank you. May God continue to bless you and give you insight to help us. bjl

  • cynthia

    Thank you so much for the 4 Rs..i have gone through alot in ministry. Closed down the church about 3years ago..and i realised i had fans and not disciples. the four Rs i find helpful as im trusting God to beging my mandate again next year and i need all the help and materials but this time im being led to start with radio ministry. Please keep me in your prayers..thank you and wishing you more grace IJN.

  • Michael

    Thank you very much for the 4 Rs, it really bless me, more grace and more anointing in Jesus name.

  • Pastor Muriel

    Thank you for your continuous support and helpful insights. Good to have confirmation that I’ve been on the right track. God is faithful.

    God Bless you.

  • Pastor Veral Blake

    Thanks for your very insightful counsel on preaching. I have been preaching for 46 years and have been guilty of some of the issues you spoke about

  • Allan

    Thank you Barry, your teachings are spot on . I thank the Lord that He has helped me not to become personal from the pulpit and I’m trying to teach other s pastors the same. The I always try to impliment in order for God to be glorified and that it not be about me. May the Lord continue to bless you.

  • Major Lorne Hiscock – The Salvation Army. Horwood, Newfoundland, Canada

    Hello Barry,
    Thank you for the four R’s of preaching. You have given preachers something to think about. Sometimes the pulpit is used as comedy stage with hardly any respect for God. Every preacher should read and heed the four R’s and put them into practice. Great stuff.
    With every blessing,

    Major Lorne Hiscock

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