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5 Questions on Preaching with Joe McKeever

Dr. Joe McKeever has been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ for over 50 years. He spent 42 of those years pastoring six Southern Baptist Churches and five years as Director of Missions for the Southern Baptist churches in metro-New Orleans. He has also been writing and cartooning for religious publications for over 40 years. Though he is now retired and living in New Orleans, he is constantly on the road filling pulpits. Find Dr. McKeever’s writings and preaching schedule online at

Q1: How long does it typically take you to prepare a sermon?

I’m tempted to say about 10 years. Otherwise, I’d say 5 hours.

Q2: What do you ultimately want a sermon to accomplish?

I want it to lift up Jesus, to convey the truth of God’s word, and to draw people to Him.

Q3: What are one or two big mistakes people often make in preaching?

Not being focused on what the sermon should accomplish, and thus never having an aim for their “gun.” When they give the invitation, it’s all over the place.

Not knowing the sermon material well enough and having to stay tethered to their notes.  I want to hold my head up high, look the people in the eye, and declare the truth of God.

Q4: How do you handle the gospel invitation and preach toward it?

I always tell the worship leader I do not want the congregation singing. I’m going to be asking them to fill the altar area for
prayer. The ministers will be in their usual place to receive those wishing to make decisions.  — Typically, I tell the people IN THE BODY OF THE SERMON what the invitation will be. Then, when I tell them again AT THE CONCLUSION, they’re not caught off guard.

Q5: What advice would you give to preachers doing pulpit supply?

Stay with the grand overall message God has taught you in your years of ministry.  In most cases, you will not need 25 or 50 messages, but four or five at most.  Hone them, sharpen them, and keep trying to improve them.  — Never assume that just because you like a sermon–or it got good results at the last church–you should automatically preach it at the next church.  ASK THE LORD.  That way, when you stand in the pulpit, you have no trouble saying, “The Lord has given me a message for someone here today.”

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