Filler words and phrases often slide accidentally off our tongues. We want to fill the unbearable silence, so these unintended and unimpressive idioms appear in our sermons. These words and phrases can dilute our sermons and hinder our messages. We should actively seek to eliminate these distracting expressions from our sermons. To motivate you in this endeavor, I’ve provided a list of offending phrases and the possible responses they provoke in your congregation:
Preacher: Can I get an “amen”?
Congregation: I don’t know, preach better and we will see!
P: Are you listening?
C: Say something worthwhile and I will listen.
P: Finally (AKA – In Conclusion)
C: Sure, I’ll believe it’s over when you say Amen.
C: Thank God it is over!
C: I should start picking up all my belongings right now so I can pick up my kids before anyone else.
P: Today I’m going to tell you….
C: How about if you just cut to the chase and tell me?
P: Are you following me? (AKA “Do you get it?”)
C: I should nod my head now so he will keep moving.
C: Ironically asking about my comprehension level does little to increase my comprehension level.
P: Tweet that!
C: If it was worthy of a tweet I would have already posted it.
P: I didn’t have time to prepare for this sermon.
C: Too bad I did make time to come to church today, but don’t worry I won’t make the same mistake next week.
P: I’ve been sick this week so the message might be a little rough.
C: How will that be different from most of your sermons?
P: “If you don’t remember anything else that I have said, remember this.
C: Why didn’t you tell me earlier the other stuff was unimportant?
C: Great, you think you could make it tweetable?
P: Turn over in your Bibles to the gospel of _________.
C: Preacher I can’t do yoga, there is no way I could turn over in that Bible.
P: I know we are running a little late today, but I really need to cover this. (Usually accompanied by glancing at a watch or phone.)
C: I didn’t know that we were running late, but now that you mention it I’m ready to go.
C: I wasn’t aware that you could tell time.
P:That’s all I have.
C: Just as I suspected, you don’t have anything.
As you can see, these and other phrases like them are better left unsaid. Ask a trusted friend if you have any annoying fillers in your sermons. Then, work like your sermon depended on it to get rid of them, because it does!
Kristopher Barnett is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in Biblical Languages (2001) and a Ph.D. in theology with a concentration in preaching (2008). His dissertation was A Historical/Critical Analysis of Dialogical Preaching. His undergrad work was completed at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas with a B.A. in Communication (1997).
Prior to joining the Christian studies faculty at Anderson University, Dr. Barnett served as pastor to three different churches; Forestburg Baptist Church (TX), Ridglea West Baptist Church (TX) and most recently, East Pickens Baptist Church (SC). Prior to pastoral ministry, he served as youth minister at two churches and did a youth internship at another.
Kris Barnett is the author of What Now?, a companion guide to the Bible. He is a member of the Evangelical Homiletic Society and has twice presented papers at the EHS conference (Wake Forest, NC and Birmingham, AL). Dr. Barnett enjoys filling the pulpit for local churches and serving in an interim role for churches seeking a pastor.
Dr. Barnett is married to Kelly, who is a graduate of ASU with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in psychology. They have four children, Kenzie, Karsen, Noah, and Kassie.