Category Archives: Preaching

Fact Checking Your Preacher

We’ve warned that your should never trust your preacher. It is not that preachers are dishonest (although some are) but that your soul is too important to entrust to anyone other than Jesus.

After all, preachers have no innate authority other than that which flows from Scripture. They are just as fragile and breakable as anyone else.

The obvious question is: “How do I know if my preacher is speaking truth when he preaches?”

The media likes to fact-check politicians. They compare what officials say against the known facts. You can do the same with your preacher. This is not disrespectful. Your minister should appreciate the fact that his people are listening carefully to what he says and are willing to dig into Scripture to discover pure truth.

Here are 5 ways to fact check your preacher.

Listen Carefully and Without Distraction

It is not fair to give half your attention to the sermon. He has worked hard to prepare his lesson and you should be able to devote the requisite time to hear his words. Pay careful attention. Note the flow of the lesson and note the points which build to his conclusion. Later, you will want to analyze his study and see if you reach the same Biblical conclusions that he has.

It can be impossible to control distractions around you. A cute, playful, child, chatty people, folks getting up and going out constantly, all these can rob you of your attention. The solution is amazingly simple: Move up! As you move forward you will be putting those distractions behind you and you can listen carefully.

You cannot fact check the preacher without an accurate hearing of his lesson.

Take Careful Notes of the Sermon

What the preacher says must be backed up by the Bible. Listen for the “book, chapter,and verse” of every claim he makes. Jot the reference down and then you can compare his statement with what the text actually says.

I once preached with Wendell Winkler in the audience. He sat near the front in the center section. As I began to speak I saw him draw out his pen and pad and begin to takes notes as I spoke. It staggered me. Why would he take notes? What could I say that he hadn’t heard a million times before? I never asked him about those notes but I would venture that he was fact checking the young man in the pulpit.

Your notes will serve as the basis for your analysis of the sermon. You will note the following:

  • The Big Idea – what is the main purpose of this lesson. If someone asks what the preacher spoke about you should be able to explain by stating the big idea.
  • The Text – what is the primary, foundation text of the lesson. Is it from the Old Testament or the New? This matters because of the way we receive the message. The New Testament is our guide for today while the Old is our teacher.
  • The Main Points – each well-crafted sermon is usually composed of 3 to 5 main points. What are they? How do they relate to one another and how do they support his Big Idea?
  • The Scriptures – Every point must be backed up by Scripture. I can think of no exceptions. Collect the passages together with the points they make and compare. Does the passage, in its context, really say what he is teaching?
  • The Conclusion – All of the points with their Scriptures should support his conclusion. If it does not, there is a problem.
  • Your Questions – if a question pops into your mind, write it down for later study.

Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More

God has revealed his word through inspired Bible writers (2 Peter 1:21). He has also promised help for those seeking to know the truth. He has also promised that we can find him if we seek him because he is not far away (Acts 17:27ff).

The Lord has also promised wisdom as we study (James 1:5-8). Here’s a bit of wisdom from Solomon (Proverbs 2:1-8):

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2  making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3  yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4  if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5  then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6  For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7  he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8  guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.

Notice the necessity of seeking truth and the promise that we can understand and know the knowledge of God.

As you approach the Scriptures, do so prayerfully. You are not seeking to prove or disprove anything. You only want to know truth.

Analyze Your Notes

After the sermon, analyze your notes and fact-check every statement he made. This step cannot be done during the sermon. If you try, you will miss important teachings. Do this at home. It is a far better use of your time than that Sunday afternoon nap!

Look for context, context, context! Job’s wife infamously declared “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). Obviously, that is not a command for us to follow today. The context of the verse makes that plain. Sometimes, preachers botch the context.

Once you understand who is speaking, who is being spoken to, what the occasion is, and what the intended message was, you can determine if the speaker got it right.

It’s common to confuse commands under the law of Moses with commands under the law of Christ. See our discussion on the Covenants for more.

Share What You Find

Let your preacher know that you are carefully following his lessons. If he has done a good job, tell him so. He should be acknowledged for his good work. If he has stumbled – well, tell him that too. He needs to know.

One sweet lady would frequently tell me that she was going to think about what I said. That is one of the greatest complements you can pay to your preacher.

Let us all pay careful attention to our preachers and even more attention to the word of God. It is the standard!

Never Trust Your Preacher!

Why would a preacher tell you to never trust your preacher? Isn’t trust inherent in the job of preaching? I mean, if you never trust your preacher, who can you trust?

Gallup published a new poll last month which put preachers on par with journalists for trustworthiness. Only 37% of respondents rate clergy as high or very highly honest or ethical people.

“Gallup has measured Americans’ views of the clergy’s honesty and ethics 34 times beginning in 1977, and this year’s 37% very high/high rating is the lowest to date. Although the overall average positive rating is 54%, it has consistently fallen below that level since 2009. The historical high of 67% occurred in 1985.

Gallup suggests the decline is, at least partly related to scandals in the Roman Catholic Church. Christianity Today cites many failures among protestant preachers too. All of this may be so, but my warning isn’t based on a survey.

There’s another reason you should never trust your preacher.

Never Trust Your Preacher Because He Is Human

Human’s err. The Bible is even stronger.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23

“If we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:8

“This is a faithful saying and worth of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV)

So if I put my faith in a man, no matter how good he may strive to be, I make a deadly mistake. He, like me, is a sinner.

Never Trust Your Preacher Because His Wisdom May Be Faulty

There is a real conflict between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom. The same clash happened in the first century too. Paul had much to say about it.

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. “

1 Corinthians 2:12, 13

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’”

1 Corinthians 3:18, 19

Surely we hope that our preachers are steeped in God’s wisdom. We expect and hope that their motivations and passions are driven by the Spirit of God. But remember, we are thinking of our own soul; that precious eternal piece of me that will live forever. Am I that sure that my preacher’s wisdom is divine?

Never Trust Your Preacher Because He Is Not Inspired

God’s word is inspired ( 2 Timothy 3:16, 17). It is infallible and must never be tampered with.

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.”

Deuteronomy 4:2

” I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. “

Revelation 22:18, 19

Your preacher is not inspired because he doesn’t need to be inspired. The word which you possess is from the very mind of God. It has been delivered to us today in a final and complete form. Jude writes that the word was “once for all” delivered (Jude 3).

I do not suggest that your preacher is not inspiring; I hope he is. But that is vastly different from being directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. As preachers, we have nothing new to bring to the theological table. We are spokesmen for what God has already given.

Never Trust Your Preacher Because You Can Understand the Bible

It’s nice to be wanted. It’s nice to feel needed. It’s nice to think yourself important. But when it comes to your knowledge of God’s word, you can understand it through your own study and prayer. You have no need for someone to tell you what the Scriptures say.

Solomon knew that study was hard (Ecclesiastes 12:12). But Paul tells Timothy that study is important.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

The command to Timothy is to study and to be a workman. The Scriptures were written for our learning (Romans 15:4). It is in the word that we find hope and comfort. The Christian was never pointed to a priest or rabbi but instead was always pointed to the word of God.

I know you appreciate, love and respect your preacher. You should. But your soul is far too precious to entrust to fallible men. Be sure and read our coming article on Fact-Checking Your Preacher.

Teaching in South America

Lethem, GuyanaI just returned from a trip to Lethem, Guyana and the Guyana Christian University. What a blessing to visit these good people and have both students and community visitors in my classes. For those who do not know, Lethem is located in western Guyana along the border with Brazil. It is south of the almost pristine Guyanese rainforest and is situated in the grasslands or savannahs. The school has been in place for just over 12 years and has been the source of many gospel preachers now working among the Amerindian people of the country.

On this occasion, I taught a university-level class on Revelation and a class on preaching. These great students were careful to compare my teaching to God’s word. We teach them to study the scriptures and use the Scriptures as the sole authority in their teaching.

I was also privileged to speak to the church of Christ at Culvert City which shares a campus with the school. It was so good to see old friends and some new ones too.

Here, at Eastern Shore in Alabama, we support Guyana Christian Medical Missions. A team just returned in February, another arrives in July and another in September or October. We are making some improvements to the clinic to be ready for the new team that arrives in a month or so.

If you are near Daphne, Alabama next Sunday, drop by the Eastern Shore church of Christ. I’ll be making a fuller report on Sunday night at 5.


Preachers and Roy Moore: A Teachable Moment

politicsSince Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority swept Ronald Reagan to victory in the 1980 Presidential Primary and General Election, politics have become more and more intertwined with faith. Nowhere is this mixing more evident than in the so-called evangelical churches. The politics of faith has even made its way into the pulpit and preaching of some churches. The current controversy over U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore provides a powerful illustration of what can happen when personal politics blend with preaching the word.

Preachers have no business endorsing individual candidates from the pulpit. Our preaching upholds Jesus to the world, not men. We must preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and avoid unnecessary entanglements in the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4). However, Christians are the light and the salt of this world and must bring their influence to bear where possible (Matthew 5:13-16). I argue that the best way for preachers to influence is by teaching the Bible in all of its authority. God is the only legitimate moral lawgiver and, as such, his word controls our lives.

The current political fiasco involving Roy Moore is instructive for preachers. Some, who backed the candidate from the pulpit now find themselves in a squeeze: “God’s candidate” is accused of pedophilia and multiple counts of sexual misconduct. What’s an endorsing preacher to do? He must learn that using the pulpit to endorse any candidate is fraught with the danger of bringing disrespect upon himself as the proclaimer of the word of God.

I have no certainty that Roy Moore is guilty, nor am I certain that his accusers are lying. I just do not know. I do know that his opponent promotes abortion. So, I too am in a squeeze. I will vote so I will have to make a decision. The difference is that my decision will be private. The church for which I preach will not be sullied by my endorsement of anyone. Sunday morning, I will preach Jesus.

I hope my colleagues will stop getting all hot and bothered about the people who run for office. If we preach the word only, we will be good servants of our master. I call on fellow preachers to simply “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) and let others play politics.

An old preacher once observed that being involved in politics is like reaching into an old stovepipe while wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt. No matter how careful you are, the shirt is going to get dirty.

God Said What!?

It’s easy to prep a sermon when you don’t have to be bothered with things like honesty and truth. Sticking to the words of inspired Scripture forces a preacher measure his words and carefully present only what is actually in the text. It is a challenge. It’s especially frustrating when your wisdom dictates a sermon that cannot be taught from the Biblical text. What to do?

Some have taken to crafting their own message from their imaginations. Then they give it the imprimatur of truth by declaring, “God told me…” Recently a preacher wanted to weigh in on the homosexual marriage debate. I’ll not name him, ((I do not wish to promote or give any additional publicity to the man.)) but he said that God told him we should change our attitude toward the LGBT community and we should be accepting of them. I guess because God told him we should all hold our tongues and rejoice that the sin of the practicing homosexual is no longer sinful! God told him it was ok! Some have gone so far as to craft entire books of sayings and teachings given them by God, teachings that often directly contradict clear Bible teaching.

Sadly, some just follow along and accept whatever comes from the mouth of their preacher. Shame on them and their preacher! Let’s begin with a few passages.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8, 9).

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

“For God is not a God of confusion…” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

It is clear that anyone who brings “new” teachings, not found in Scripture, to the pulpit is to be accursed. It doesn’t matter how that supposed revelation came to be it cannot stand if it contradicts Bible teaching. ((We note that both Islam and Mormonism were allegedly brought by the angels Gabriel and Moroni.)) Paul declares that one who brings such teaching is to be “accursed.” This precept is so important that Paul repeats it again in the very next verse. This teaching parallels other similar thoughts in Revelation 22:18, 19, Deuteronomy 4:2, 2 John 9, et al. The false teacher is deceitful and knowingly brings his illicit teachings to the mind of the student. Paul notes that these teachers have disguised themselves so as to infiltrate churches and destroy from the inside (Acts 20:29-31).

Our final verse notes that God does not create confusion. The context is that of chaotic, charismatic worship, but the fact remains that God does not create confusion. One who brings a new or altered teaching because “God told him to” has created confusion and therefore proven himself a false teacher.

New revelation, when sent by God, was always confirmed by great signs, wonders and miracles. The miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt and the attendant wonders at Sinai confirmed the coming of the Law of Moses. Likewise, the miraculous manifestations on Pentecost (Acts 2) and again at the home of Cornelius (Acts 10) confirmed the new church age and the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles.

Unless and until modern preachers can confirm their new teachings with Bible-caliber miracles, let them be silent or preach only from the established truth of Scripture.


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.


Politics, Preachers and the Pulpit

A_coloured_voting_boxOnce again some preachers are knowingly and openly breaking IRS regulations by endorsing specific candidates for political office. These preachers are wrong and should be removed from their pulpits and subjected to the appropriate penalties.

Religious bodies may choose to accept IRS rules and thus avoid paying taxes on  their contributions. They could choose to decline the tax exempt provisions and preach anything they want but instead these people are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

By law, a preacher may preach on any topic he so chooses. He can preach against abortion, against gambling, against various social issues and even against unbiblical  topics like the flat tax, fair tax or any number of arcane points of law. What the tax exempt provisions prohibit is campaigning for or against a specific candidate. The preachers and their churches agreed to the provisions they now seek to violate.

It is also the case that a preacher can personally campaign for anyone he chooses as long as he is not speaking for the church or using his position with the church to promote the candidate. There simply are no substantive restrictions on preachers. It is a contrived issue by some who may be more interested in politics than in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. The upshot is that these rogue preachers are bringing the rest of us into unneeded criticisms.

Here’s a thought: Should we spend precious pulpit time talking about a man other than Jesus? I didn’t think so. Preach the word!

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Preacher Problems: Unmasked

We’ve completed a number of articles on preachers and their problems. We think there is some useful information here which is worth your time to consider. You should know that I do not dislike preachers – I am one. But brethren should understand that we struggle sometimes just like they do. I hope this series helps.

The Preacher Unmasked: New Series.

The Preacher Unmasked: Preachers Struggle with Faith.

The Preacher Unmasked: Preachers Have Bad Days.

The Preacher Unmasked: Preachers Sin.

The Preacher Unmasked: Preachers Get Discouraged.

The Preacher Unmasked: Preachers Are Hypocrites.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

The Preacher Unmasked: Preachers are Hypocrites

face and hands of mime with dark make-upPreachers are hypocrites. There, I said it. If a hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does something else then preachers are hypocrites and this author is foremost. Because our work is so public when we stumble everybody has something to say. The first word out of the mouth of some is a charge of “HYPOCRITE!”

Most preachers I know are scared to death of being labeled a hypocrite. It is a powerful word that conveys strong images and even stronger emotions. It is not a charge that I want leveled at me nor am I willing to throw it around lightly. But let’s think a little more about what a hypocrite really is and maybe we can come to a better understanding. Maybe preachers ARE NOT really hypocrites.

Hypocrisy is…

What exactly is a hypocrite? What does it mean? The dictionary definitions are all similar.

  • A person who pretends to have virtues he really does not possess;
  • One who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions or statements belie his or her public statements;
  • a person who pretends to be what he is not.

You get the idea. Inherent in these definitions is the idea of deliberate deception. Failing because of weakness despite our best efforts is not hypocrisy. It is, well, failing. And all of us fail, preachers and non-preachers alike. In other words, when a person sets out to deceive by speaking one thing while doing another he is a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy hurts…

Hypocrisy can be especially damaging when revealed. Hidden secret sin that suddenly becomes public hurts the sinner but also the people around him. The more respected the sinner, the greater the damage. So, when a man, like a preacher,  in the public, eye sins, it has the potential to cause devastation to those around him. But that brings a question.

Do we expect to much of our preachers?

The Lord expects much out of those who preach and teach. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). Jesus was tough on teacher who did not apply the truth of Scripture to their lives. In John 3:10 he rebuked Nicodemus, who as a teacher of Israel, did not understand the things Jesus was teaching. Some of the strongest language Jesus used toward sinners came in his rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. In each case he called them “hypocrites!”

It may be that we have elevated our preachers much too high. It’s a cliche but preachers really do put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. The same things that tempt you will also tempt them. So it should not be surprising when preachers fail, just like every one else.

But a brother might argue, “If a preacher can’t live the Christian life then how can I?” Good question. The problem comes when we think any of us is perfect. We are not.

 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:7-10).

I like this verse for many reasons. But notice when Jesus bloods cleanses us. It cleanses our sin when we are walking in the light. The time when we “walk in the light” is the time we are in fellowship with Jesus. But it is also the time sins come into  our lives and are taken away by Jesus. We actually sin while in fellowship with Jesus. That is the only conclusion we can draw from the text. Now the sin is not deliberate and we are not persisting in sin but we still stumble and so do preachers.

The hypocrite charge is best left for those who knowingly and willfully say one thing and the practice something else. To be sure, some preachers are hypocrites. They serve their own belly rather than the Lord (Philippians 3:19) and scratch the ears of those with an itch (2 Timothy 4:3). But be gentle with you preacher. If he hasn’t already stumbled, he will. But that doesn’t necessarily make him a hypocrite. Remember, Judge righteously (Matthew 7:1-5) and extend your preacher the same grace you desire.

If you haven’t read my disclaimer yet, please read it here.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

The Preacher Unmasked: Preachers Get Discouraged

face and hands of mime with dark make-upPreachers have it all together, right? They have the direct line to God and have all their problems worked out, don’t they? They preach about happiness, contentment and service to the Lord and they certainly talk about heaven. I guess that have it all figured out, right?


I know a young man who once served his community as a police officer. Day in and day out he responded to one call after another. He finally quit his job. The struggles, crime and violence had taken a toll on his life. He was almost broken. This man who fought for law and order now found himself swirling into chaos. He had to get out.

I’m not sure preachers are much different.

Every day the preacher faces a world firmly in the grip of the evil one. He sees sin in his life and the life of others. Discouragement is not surprising. It’s the norm.

Do not be mistaken. We know what the Bible says about persevering and remaining faithful unto death. We believe that the Lord is in charge and that he will reward the faithful servants.

But we struggle.

Discouragement is probably rooted in our own expectations. When we expect a certain outcome, and it does not happen, we are discouraged.  In other words, if everyone lived the way I think they should discouragement would never come. Yeah, right.

Jesus discourages discouragement. In his thinking, discouragement comes when we drift away from him. In Luke 18:1 he reminded his disciples that they should always “pray and not be discouraged” (HCSB). Prayer can both prevent and repair the discouraged heart. But still, our humanness sometimes overwhelms the preacher and discouragement follows.

Congregations can help their preacher avoid discouragement.

  1. Be a source of encouragement. Pump him up from time to time and let him to know that you really care.
  2. Be honest with the preacher. Telling him he preached a great sermon when it wasn’t doesn’t really help.
  3. Seek his counsel and advice only if you are serious about needing his help. Helping those who struggle does not discourage us. But people who play games with their soul discourages the preacher faster than almost anything else.
  4. Require your preacher to take periodic breaks and vacations. He needs to recharge just like everybody else.
  5. Pray every day for your preacher. Trust me. He needs it.

Discouragement is just one of those horrible human traits that we all have to deal with sometimes. Preachers are not exempt. Help them so that they can help you more!

If you haven’t done so, please read my disclaimer.