How To Preach Without Results
Charles G. Finney
Edited and paraphrased by Keith and Melody Green
Let your supreme motive be to increase your own popularity - then, of course, your preaching will be suited for that purpose, and not to convert souls to Christ.
Avoid preaching doctrines that are offensive to the carnal mind, lest they should say to you, as they did of Christ, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" (John 6:60)
Make no distinct points, and do not disturb the consciences of your hearers, lest they become alarmed about their souls.
Avoid all illustrations, repetitions, and emphatic sentences that may compel your people to remember what you say.
Avoid all heat and earnestness in your delivery, lest you make the impression that you really believe what you say.
Address the emotions, and not the conscience, of your hearers.
Be careful not to testify from your own personal experience of the power of the Gospel, lest you should produce the conviction upon your hearers that you have something which they need.
Do not awaken uncomfortable memories by reminding your hearers of their past sins.
Denounce sin in general, but make no reference to the specific sins of your present audience.
Do not make the impression that God commands your listeners here and now to obey the truth. Do not let them think that you expect them to commit themselves right on the spot to give their hearts to God.
Leave the impression that they are expected to go away in their sins, and to consider the matter at their convenience.
Dwell much upon their inability to obey, and leave the impression that they must wait for God to change their natures. Preach salvation by grace, but ignore the condemned and lost condition of the sinner, lest he should understand what you mean by grace, and feel his need of it.
Preach the Gospel as a remedy, but conceal or ignore the fatal disease of the sinner.
Do not speak of the spirituality of God's holy law (by which comes the knowledge of sin - Romans 3:20), lest the sinner should see his lost condition and flee from the wrath to come.
Make no appeals to the fears of sinners, but leave the impression that they have no reason to fear.
Preach Christ as an infinitely amiable and good-natured being, but ignore those scathing rebukes of sinners and hypocrites which so often made His hearers tremble.
Encourage lots of church socials, and attend them yourself.
Make it your great aim to be personally popular with all classes of your hearers.
Aim to make your hearers pleased with themselves and pleased with you, and be careful especially not to wound the feelings of anyone.
Especially avoid preaching to those who are present. Preach about sinners, but not to them. Say "they," and not "you," lest anyone should take your subject personally, and apply it to their own life, securing the salvation of their soul.
Charles G. Finney, 3/20/2012