the shape of leadership

Seven Topics Preachers Should NOT Avoid

Don’t be afraid to speak the truth in love

Influence Magazine on March 21, 2019

Do you have a list of hot-button themes you refuse to preach on? These are third rails that can often derail conversations. They can also hinder friendships once you make your opinion known. From the pulpit, you may politely skirt them so as not to offend.

But preaching is a different type of conversation. At its root, preaching is confrontational. There are many sensitive topics that should be front and center at times. Here are seven you should not avoid:

1. Politics

As nonprofits, churches can’t endorse specific political candidates. But that doesn’t mean preachers need to remain silent on political topics. However, make sure your aim is teaching Scripture, not advancing secular partisanship. Preaching a political party line removes the gospel from the center. But the Bible has plenty to say about our day-to-day lives, and God’s wisdom can inform our decisions at the ballot box.

2. Giving

Many pastors find it uncomfortable to speak about money. They worry about coming across as greedy. However, giving is a part of Christian stewardship. All disciples must commit to growing in every area of service to God. When you encourage your congregation to give, you are offering them an opportunity to serve God with their finances.

We must boldly declare God’s truth about the value of all people.

3. Sex

Pastors often avoid this topic because it may not seem suitable for some audiences. However, if your church doesn’t find a way to communicate God’s message on sexuality, many of your young people will hear only a worldly perspective. In today’s culture, silence on what the Bible teaches about marriage and sex is not an option.

4. Hell

There was a time when “fire and brimstone” sermons were common in America’s pulpits. Most preachers today have toned down the rhetoric of condemnation. Yet we shouldn’t ignore the sense of urgency found in the pages of Scripture. Hell is a real place, and people who die without accepting Christ as Savior will experience it. We have a responsibility to share the truth about eternity — including the difficult parts.

5. Abortion

Abortion has been in the news a lot lately. If you haven’t addressed this topic, people in your church may wonder where you stand. Your approach may depend on your congregation, but it’s important to share what the Bible has to say about the sanctity of human life. There are likely those in your church who’ve had an abortion, so be sure to include a message of hope, grace and restoration.

6. Race

Racial tension and division are also capturing headlines — and the attention of communities throughout the nation. Speaking to this issue requires wisdom and discernment. Sadly, some people in the past used the Bible to defend slavery and advance white supremacy. We must boldly proclaim the value of all people and share God’s concern for the oppressed. Ignoring the problems of race won’t make them go away. Consistently articulate and demonstrate God’s love for all people, regardless of race and ethnicity.

7. Sin

Sin may seem out of place on this list. However, there are certain sins that are easy to ignore. When was the last time you mentioned gluttony? How about gossip? Perhaps many in your congregation struggle with greed or envy. Whatever sin you encounter, address it. After all, there is no such thing as a little sin.


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