7 Ways to Make Your Preaching Sound Pretentious

My erudite and perspicacious agent, Steve Laube, tweeted an article today from Scribblepreach.com titled, "7 Ways to Make Your Writing Sound Pretentious." It's a good piece; you should read it.

Of course, it got me thinking--a rare experience in itself--and suggested a few ways to make your preaching sound pretentious:

1. Preach about things that aren't an issue for you.

Tell your listeners how simple it is to overcome things you know little or nothing about--or areas in which you long ago experienced victory. Don't let it be known that you have current struggles of any kind.

2. Preach against people who can't defend themselves.

Go ahead and tell your listeners who's got it all wrong--who's a heretic, who's headed for hell, who's worthy of ridicule--because they're not present and can't answer your criticism.

3. Use big words and fancy phrases.

Like "as it were" and "if you will." And "erudite" and "perspicacious." Not to mention frequent references to Hebrew and Greek words.

4. Name drop.

Both my agent and my buddy Rick Warren correctly identify this as a sure-fire way to make your preaching sound pretentious.

5. Don't use self-deprecating humor.

I touched on this recently in a post on using humor in preaching (here), but self-deprecating humor can keep a preacher from taking himself or herself too seriously.

6. Quote yourself.

As I say often, use phrases such as "as I was saying" or "as I like to say." And quote your own book, blog, or previous sermon, as I did in #5, above. See how easy it is?

7. Preach too long.

Some preachers seem to think themselves to be so wise that their listeners should be grateful for an extra, unscheduled fifteen minutes more! But it's not just a matter of "the roast in the oven" (to which preachers still refer with disdain); some people actually bear heavy burdens, juggle busy schedules, and might appreciate a preacher who--believe it or not--respects their time.

So there are seven ways to make your preaching sound pretentious. And I feel like I'm just scratching the surface. What do you say? What are some other ways to be pretentious in the pulpit?

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