41. Preparation. Remember that preaching is not a written art, but an oral thing. So, once you have finished your plan for the message, go for a walk and preach it aloud. This will alert you to detours to avoid, rabbit trails to shun, potholes to steer around, and will make you aware of areas where you need to do more work..
42. Never deliver a sermon you have not preached to yourself at least three times. Likewise, when you plan to read a Scripture in the worship service, prepare by reading it aloud numerous times to prepare your tongue for forming these particular sounds, to find phrases you need to emphasize, and so you can do the reading justice.
43. When you are invited to guest preach in other churches, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. This is no time to hammer out a new sermon, but an opportunity to use something you have previously preached. You’re being given a rare opportunity to return to something you have preached and improve on it. In time, this may become a favorite message you preach in many places.
44. While your sermon-machine is always on (and you will always have a notepad nearby when reading anything), make it a point to read Scripture devotionally–asking the Father to feed your soul–every day. Read for no other purpose than to listen to God.
45. Stewardship. Tithe your income and more through your church.
46. If you are not a faithful tither, you will have a hard time teaching your people about stewardship and taking a stand against materialism and greed. Eventually, if someone finds out you are not tithing–as they will–they will use this against you. Be blameless in all things.
47. Keep in mind that no one ever started tithing when they could afford to do so. Everyone needs just a little more money. As with everything else in the Christian life, you will do this by faith or not at all. But, no matter how painful it is, get started. The first year is the hardest; thereafter it gets easier. Some day you will look back with pleasure that in this one area at least, you got it right.
48. Benevolence. Don’t be hard-nosed toward people who come to your church asking for financial help. Be wise, yes, and be on the alert for con men and scam artists. But never forget that our Lord said, “Give to everyone who asks of you” (Luke 6:30). He did not say we have to give them what they ask for or as much as they want. Try to give them something.
49. If you stop to help a vagrant, it’s perfectly fine to be generous without making the supplicant earn the money by listening to your lecture.
50. Witnessing. Become a personal soulwinner. Learn how to initiate a conversation with a stranger and how to explain briefly the plan of salvation and lead them in the sinner’s prayer. Then, watch for opportunities. (The Holy Spirit will send plenty of occasions to those who are prepared and expectant.)
51. Do not criticize other preachers from the pulpit. Satan loves it when we do this, but I suspect Christ is dishonored by it.
52. Never preach someone else’s sermon. Plagiarism is plagiarism, no matter where it’s found or who does it. Of course, you may borrow a point here and there or a story or a great insight from the text. Should you give credit to the source of the story or point? Not necessarily. However, you should be prepared in case someone asks where you got it. I once heard Adrian Rogers say, “I got this from someone who got it from someone who got it from the Lord.”
53. If someone else’s sermon so impresses you that you just “have” to preach it (or large portions of it), do not do so until, through prayer and study and waiting on Him, the Lord makes it your own. Even then, pay tribute to the source. You do this for your own personal integrity and also for the benefit of someone sitting before you who knows where you got it!
54. Leave politics out of the pulpit. You have bigger fish to fry.
55. If an election is coming up and you wish to invite the candidates to church, make sure your lay leadership agrees. Invite all those running for office, no matter their stance, and recognize them individually in the service, but without giving them an opportunity to speak. Have a fellowship time afterwards where each one is allowed to put materials on a table and greet your people. (In the invitation you extend to them, specify that this will be the procedure. Otherwise, some will arrive expecting to be allowed to address the congregation.) Sunday nights are best for this. If you preach a sermon, Jeremiah 29:7 is a great text.
56. Before you recommend a movie to your people, be sure you have seen it and are confident there is no objectionable content. Otherwise, don’t.
57. Before you condemn a movie or a book publicly, see it (read it) beforehand and know what you are talking about. If that’s not possible, spell out in your presentation where you came by your information. Do not put yourself in a position where someone asks, “So, pastor, have you actually read this book you are denouncing?” and you have to admit you have not.
58.Attire. Pay attention to your clothing. I suggest that the pastor dress one step better than the men in your congregation. If the men are all wearing t-shirts and jeans, I suggest you wear a nice shirt fresh from the cleaners with dress slacks or pressed chinos. I’m not sure why, but our attire seems to speak of the value we place on what we are doing in God’s house.
59. Invite outstanding preachers and authors to your church. Expose your people to the best. After he/she speaks, have books for sale in the foyer and the author there to sign them.
60. Public prayers should almost always be brief, and therefore well thought-out in advance. I said “almost,” because there are exceptions. I’m thinking of David’s prayer in which he dedicated the materials for the temple (I Chronicles 29) and Solomon’s prayer dedicating that house of worship (I Kings 8). Sometimes when the occasion is sufficiently important, the prayer will be longer and more extensive. But it should always be well-planned. Unlike most of our prayers, this kind of public prayer has multiple purposes.