Simplicity in Preaching


  1. To attain simplicity in preaching is of the utmost importance to every minister who wishes to be useful to souls. Unless you are simple in your sermons you will never be understood, and unless you are understood you cannot do well to those who hear you.
  2. It is an extremely difficult thing to write simple, clear, perspicuous, and forcible English.
  3. People do not like even the appearance of 'condescending preaching'. They feel we are not treating them as equals, but inferiors. Human nature always dislikes that.
  4. Finally, let me observe, that it is not coarse or vulgar preaching that is needed.

Major Points

  1. If you want to attain simplicity in preaching, you must have a clear knowledge of what you are going to preach. Take care you thoroughly understand your subject. Never choose a text of which you do not quite know what it means.
  2. If you would attain simplicity in preaching, you must use simple words. The most powerful and forcible words, as a rule, are very short. Without simple words you will never attain simplicity in preaching.
  3. If you would attain simplicity in preaching, you must seek to acquire a simple style of composition, with short sentences and as few colons and semicolons as possible. We should bear in mind that preachers have to do with hearers and not readers, and that what will "read" well will not always "speak" well.
  4. If you would attain simplicity in preaching, aim at directness. Practice the use of “You” and “I”.
  5. If you would attain simplicity in preaching, make abundant use of illustration and anecdote. You must regard illustrations as windows through which light is let in upon your subject. People like similes, illustrations, and well-told stories—and will listen to them when they will attend to nothing else. He is the best speaker, says an Arabian proverb, who can turn the ear into an eye! Illustration, I confidently assert, is one of the best receipts for making a sermon simple, clear, perspicuous, and easily understood. Happy is that preacher who has an eye for similitudes, and a memory stored with well-chosen stories and illustrations. If he is a real man of God, and knows how to deliver a sermon, he will never preach to bare walls and empty benches.


  1. Let us aim so to preach, that what we say may really come home to men's minds and consciences and hearts, and make them think and consider.
  2. All the simplicity in the world can do no good, unless you preach the simple gospel of Jesus Christ so fully and clearly that everybody can understand it. If 'Christ crucified' has not His rightful place in your sermons, and 'sin' is not exposed as it should be, and your people are not plainly told what they ought to believe, and be, and do—your preaching is of no use!
  3. All the simplicity in the world, again, is useless without a good lively delivery.
  4. Above all, let us never forget that all the simplicity in the world is useless without prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the grant of God's blessing, and a life corresponding in some measure to what we preach. Be it ours to have an earnest desire for the souls of men, while we seek for simplicity in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and let us never forget to accompany our sermons by holy living and fervent prayer!