5 Great Ways to Continually Develop as a Preacher

5 Great Ways to Continually Develop as a Preacher

Do you want to develop as a preacher? Of course, you do. That’s why you’re reading this. But if you’re like most pastors, it’s hard to know where to start.

Why? Because growing as a preacher can sometimes be too vague to know what to do.

So that’s why we’re going to get specific on how to develop as a preacher. I want to give you some solid takeaways that you can implement today.

5 Great Ways to Continually Develop as a Preacher

1. Watch and Learn From Comedians

Think about it. In our day and time, there are only two consistent places people will go to simply listen to someone talk: church and a comedy club.

And here’s the thing: comedians are master communicators. They have to be. They stand up and talk for an hour about nothing in particular and yet they are able to hold people’s attention while simultaneously giving them an ab workout from their gut-busting jokes.

We could learn a lot from comedians if we took the time to pay attention.

So one of my best out-of-the-box recommendation for developing as a preacher, specifically in the area of delivery, is to watch and learn from comedians.

If you want to deliver the sermon better, you can expect to learn this from comedians:

  1. How to use facial expressions to communicate more than words
  2. How body language can be used intentionally
  3. How to use your voice to communicate with more thrust
  4. How to harness the power of the pause
  5. How to powerfully tell a story
  6. How to notice everyday life’s teachable moments

There are certainly more things we can learn from comedians, but those will give us a start toward what to watch for when we go to them to learn.

2. Record (Preferably Video) Your Sermons Then Watch, Dissect, and Critique Them

This is something I’ve intuitively done since I began preaching. In fact, it was instilled in me from my first preaching class taught by Dr. David Ray at Cincinnati Christian University. If you want to improve, then make sure your preaching is recorded so that you can go back and watch it with a purpose.

Yes, I’m big on getting your sermons on video so that you can better extend the sermon past Sunday by utilizing social media, but what I’m advocating here doesn’t require a setup that would necessarily even go out to the public. You could just have someone record it on a smartphone. Why? Because the goal is for you to simply see what happened.

As you are watching yourself, here are ten questions to consider:

  1. Is my focus more on my notes or more on the congregation?
  2. Am I bringing energy and passion or am I lacking either one? Both?
  3. Did I preach the Bible faithfully?
  4. Did I weave the gospel throughout the sermon?
  5. How well were my illustrations? How could I improve them if I were using them again?
  6. Was the application of the text natural and faithful to the text and life today?
  7. How well did I use the power of body language and movement?
  8. Did I let it all go in the hands of the Holy Spirit or was I depending on my own strength?
  9. Did I portable-ize the big idea of the sermon?
  10. How well did I land the plane at the end? What could have been better?

3. Listen to more preaching from a variety of preachers.

If we want to constantly improve as preachers, we must be students of preaching. And one of the simplest ways of doing that is to listen to more preaching. But one of the things that will help even more is to not just listen to a few of your favorite preachers, rather listen to a wide variety of preachers.

via GIPHY

If you’re not sure who to listen to, here’s a list of preachers to listen to (who you may not have heard of).

Recently, I got a new phone (rejoined team iPhone, WOOT!) and that meant I had an opportunity to completely reset my podcasting subscriptions. I added Epiphany Fellowship (Dr. Eric Mason), The Rock Church (Miles McPherson), Transformation Church (Derwin Gray), and Calvary Church (Skip Heitzig) to my subscriptions.

I highly recommend you listen to pastors who don’t fully align with you theologically or methodologically. We can learn from anyone.

So let’s be students of the craft. We’ll be better for it.

4. Read more Scripture and theology.

In order to continually develop as a preacher, we must continually develop our ability to think well. We must be in the word. We must constantly go to the feet of Jesus and listen to Him.

If we want to have better content, we have to cultivate our hearts and minds with the word of God.

As far as theology books, I typically opt for reading authors who are already in glory with the Lord, but one of my favorite books in the last year or so was The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight. So good!

Read widely. Read systematic theology and biblical theology. Then read books on specific theological topics. Read apologetics and books on public theology. Read authors you’re not familiar with and ones you are. And read authors you disagree with and ones you agree with.

5. Get a preaching coach.

Everyone could use a coach. Because a coach can show us things we weren’t thinking of. A coach can point out things we weren’t noticing. A coach can put us through a process that will develop us.

A coach could be a retired pastor who attends your church.

They could be a Seminary professor teaching a preaching course you’re enrolled in.

They could be a pastor who wrote a book on preaching that you’re reading.

Or they could be a pastor (or a couple pastors) who put together an online preaching course (much cheaper than Seminary, just FYI).

As we saw in Preaching Talent is Overrated? deliberate practice is the best way to develop your preaching skills. And when that deliberate practice is designed well, it will take you much further in your development than you would have been able to go without it.

Next week, enrollment to Sticky Sermons Academy is re-opening and we couldn’t be more excited.

In the academy, you’ll learn how to:

  • Develop an efficient and effective sermon prep process that is unique to your context and your wiring
  • Take your preaching calendar to the next level
  • Building a sticky sermon week in and week out
  • Hook your congregation with the power of storytelling and how to tell stories well
  • Deliver your sermons in an engaging, compelling, and powerful way
  • Preach the gospel in every message
  • Build your own sermon research and preaching teams
  • Give your sermon life past Sunday by leveraging technology

We really believe this is one of the most complete solutions out there. We’ll give you all the details about the academy next Tuesday when enrollment opens.

And just so you know… *Whispering* there will be a $50 discount for the first 24 hours of enrollment so don’t miss out on that.

But no matter if you enroll in Sticky Sermons Academy or not, be sure to get a preaching coach. It doesn’t have to be us. Just make sure you get one.

Want to develop as a preacher? These 5 things, if you engage in each of them, will help tremendously.

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Photo by Alexander Michl on Unsplash


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Written by Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Senior Pastor of First Church of Christ in Bluffton, IN. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.