Top This: Bad Sermon Titles

We’ve all done it. You finish a sermon, you give it one last read, and then it happens: you’re struck with *the* sermon title. It’s perfect. It’s clever. Cute, even. It might be a pun, a play off of a movie title, a line from a nursery rhyme, or just a catchy phrase. Like I said, it’s perfect–except for that little nagging doubt in the back of your mind.

Here’s a word of wisdom from someone who cares: Listen to the nagging doubt!!!

Sermon-titles-gone-wrong afflict the best of preachers at one time or another. Want proof? I just came across a tragic sermon title from a particularly gifted preacher. When I saw it, I almost fell out of my chair, half gasping and half guffawing.

What is it? Well, I should probably give a warning first. If you’re squeamish, you might want to turn away. It’s hard to watch.

Okay, here it is: perhaps the worst sermon title I’ve seen in my life.

_____

Shocking, eh? I bet you didn’t expect to see it come from a preacher who is so…dignified. That’s what makes it so comical. Him? Wowzers! And the kicker is, the message is probably stellar.

We’ll call it “the one that got away.” Like I said, it happens. Just don’t let it happen to you.

Now, if you can top that one–and it has to be true–a certain Presbyterian pastor would probably be glad to get off the hook. :)

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22 Responses

  1. Andy Stanley had a sermon series entitled, “God and your Bod.”

  2. That was pretty bad especially when you see his grinning face next to the title.

    Remember the title of our youth conference a few years ago? “How’s Your Love Life?” caused some to think we had gone over the edge.

  3. Whew! (Wipes forehead)

    I was afraid you were linking to mine!

  4. That’s a good one, Dan! :-)

  5. Ewwwwww.

    Andy, I think the Hyles sermon is a legitimate contender.

    And Dan, tell us: did you ignore the nagging doubt, or didn’t you even hear it? And what about the post made you think I might be talking about you: Um…”dignified“? ;)

  6. I’m thankful for that nagging doubt. Once, when planning a sermon on our Lord’s answer to the Sadducee’s “sure-fire” stumper question, I was tempted to call it, “One Bride for Seven Brothers.”

  7. This begs the question: are sermon titles even necessary? It’s my least favorite part of sermon preparation and I am always asked Sunday morning by the editor for our radio program what the title of my message was…. hmm.

  8. When I preached from Acts 3 on the authenticating power of miracles, I was tempted to title it “Signs.”

    But I didn’t.

  9. Probably a good choice, Scott. :)

    Bob, what you’re saying makes perfect sense. Often I end up just having the text in the bulletin. When pressed for a title, I often have to give something very mechanical. The best titles, IMO, summarize the sermon, but in a memorable way: like one I recently heard entitled “Ten Shekels and a Shirt.” It summarized the message on Judges 17 very well, and it was memorable without being cute.

    Though this thread is essentially comic relief, there is a serious point to be made. Our handling of titles may very well indicate our attitude toward preaching the Word. A message on the Magi entitled “Three Men and a Baby” (no, I’m not kidding) certainly indicates that the speaker’s goal (note the careful avoidance of the word “preacher’s”) is to come off as a wit.

    There must be a sense of gravity about the ministry of the Word. It’s serious business. I just listened to a message by Dr. Alan Cairns. I appreciated it’s content, but I also always appreciate his earnestness. Preaching the Word isn’t a laughing matter.

  10. Studying for a message on Matthew 26:1-16, I came across a message describing the extravagant gift of Mary and the service of Martha entitled “Spice Girls.”

    Just stop.

  11. Spice Girls wins the worst title for me. That’s downright . . . (you fill in the blank.)

  12. Yeah, it’s bad. Christ recognizes that act of extraordinary worship as one of the most significant ever offered to Him–one to be honored throughout the ages–then some joker connects it to a second-rate and explicitly sensual music act. It reveals the tragic and maddening irreverence that has become par for the course in our day.

    But hey, it’s clever, and I guess that’s what counts.

  13. It was just the title. And actually no, I had no nagging doubts. (c:

    Dr. Bruce Waltke says he has a terrible time picking sermon titles. Once he was giving a sermon on Balaam and, pressed for a title, he called it “The Talking Donkey.”

    When he got to the church to deliver, he saw the signboard. It read

    DR. BRUCE WALTKE
    THE TALKING DONKEY

    He says it made him glad he hadn’t chosen the synonym for “donkey.”

  14. Found this on the web … presented as a list of “all-time worst sermon titles:”

    The Road to Hell and Who You’ll See There
    Cute Stories About My Family Which I Will Use to Moralize
    One Sports Analogy After Another Related to the Gospel
    Jesus: A Stand Up Kind of Guy
    Drip Dry: Why We Baptize As We Do
    Gethsemane and the Committee Meetings
    Confession of My Personal Sins
    People Who Should Leave This Church
    I Wrote this One On the Way to Church
    Sin and Our Congregation: Who Did What
    The Funniest Confessions I’ve Ever Heard

  15. […]Chris Anderson has a good post about silly sermon titles. He (and his commenters) argue that “preaching the Word isn’t a laughing matter” — it should be “dignified.” In other words, form matters. Great points to consider for those who deliver the Word of God — with words and with music.[…]

  16. I was working on a sermon about Balaam and his donkey and I actually gave consideration to titling it “Nobody likes a smart a#@” but I thought better of it.

  17. yeah, last thing you want to do is make a sermon appealing so it might actually reach someone…

    get a grip brethren…

    http://greaterjoychurch.com/sermons/sermonlist.htm

    Positioned for Greatness Download
    You Better Recognize Download
    Drifting Away From God Download
    I Pity The Fool Download
    Not Another Easter Speech Download
    The Talent Show Download
    Let’s Get Ready To Rumble Download
    Upgrades Download
    Another Statistic Download
    Roadside Assistance Download
    Stuck On The Boat Download

    The Purpose of a Tree Download

    All I Need Is One Christ Download

    God’s Blue Angels Download

    This Day Download

    God First Download

    Soul Searching Download

    He Loves Me
    Heaven

    Mountain Climbing

    So Fresh and So Clean Download

    Heaven We Have A Church Download

    The Great Christian Conspiracy Download

    Back Then You Didn’t Want Me Download

    Thank You, Come Again Download

    Don’t Spill Your Drink Download

  18. Wholly Holy (Leviticus 22:1-4)
    Pouting Pastoral Pathetic Pity Party Permanently Postponed (Deuteronomy 10:8)

  19. The Grudge-Match of the Century: The Lion of God vs. Double-Wicked Cushan (Judges 3:5-7)

    When Everyone Around You Wants To Be “Ruth-less” (Ruth 1:15)

  20. I once preached a message called I’d rather be a Dumb Ass than Demas.

    I compared Balams Donkey and Demas Pauls disciple.

  21. 10 steps to ruining your life : lessons from the life of Saul

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