hen Jesus was 12-years-old He knew He must be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:48-52); When He was 30 He exemplified that one aspect of the His Father’s business was preaching; on one occasion He announced to His disciples, “… Let’s go into the next towns, that I may PREACH there also because for this purpose I have come forth” (Mark 1:38). In Luke 20:1 we read, “Now it happened on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him.”

     I wonder how many 12-year-old boys want to be preachers today? We are going through the season of graduations, both high school, and college. I have not heard or read about a boy who desired to be a preacher. What I’ve continually heard are desires to pursue careers and studies which will guarantee financial rewards and security. I’m not passing judgment on any young man’s motives for a secular career. What I’m noting is why aren’t there a few boys, at least, who desire to become preachers?

     Since the publishing of the bestseller back in 1986, “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” there have been numerous spinoffs using the title Why Johnny Can’t... Write, Add, Come Home, Think, Come Home, and even one “Why Johnny Can’t Preach.” My concern is Why Johnny Doesn’t Want To Preach.

     One of my missions over the 50-plus years of preaching and training preachers is a commitment to encourage both boys and men to think and pray about preparing to preach. I have a practice of referring to all boys as “My little preachers.” I am blessed and thankful that many of these boys have become preachers. From time to time I meet a young preacher, and an older preacher, who reminds me that he is preaching because I encouraged him. Sadly, however, even though I have not reduced this practice I have noticed it is rare now that a boy or adult male desires to preach or become a preacher. Obviously, my question is always WHY?

     Another alarming reality, at least for me, is the young men who go to colleges, schools of preaching, and other schools with an emphasis on Bible study and preaching, but graduate without pursuing the original desire to be a preacher. Why? What happened to that desire?



I can’t give the reason why every Johnny doesn’t want to become a preacher; this can only be answered by specifically asking him why. However, through the years and more specifically in recent years, I have documented some of the whys given by Johnny for not wanting to preach or become a preacher. What follows are some of those reasons which aren’t given in any priority:

  1. Johnny grew up in a home where being a preacher was never discussed, affirmed as an “honorable profession,” or pushed as a possible reality for a boy. He grew up in a home where the emphasis was on preparing for a successful career where finances, perks, and retirement were key goals to pursue.
  2. Johnny grew up in a home where he continually heard negative remarks about the local preacher and his preaching. Who would want to become part of a “profession” where you are not liked, talked about, and seen as a loser?
  3. Johnny, while growing up, heard about sinful and unethical conduct by preachers. He was disappointed and rejected any idea or suggestion of maybe becoming a hypocrite himself.
  4. Johnny was never taught at home, school, or in the congregation the place, work, and blessing of being a preacher. He heard some lessons on the eldership but never on preaching and preachers. Thus, how could he desire to become a preacher which he knew very little about—only what he saw on Sunday and at other services.
  5. Johnny wasn’t taken “under the wing” of a preacher who mentored or coached him to desire to become a preacher. This was the training method of Jesus and His disciples.
  6. Johnny wasn’t openly and honestly told about the work, benefits, and positive future today’s preachers are blessed with. The preacher once was paid with chickens, vegetables, and provided a parsonage. Things have changed.
  7. Johnny, sadly, is growing up with a preacher’s kids and hear them rag, reject, and express other negatives about their father. These negative seed subconsciously impact Johnny’s attitude toward preachers and preaching.
  8. Johnny hasn’t been stirred by dynamic, relevant, and spiritually motivating sermons; messages which cause him to think “I want to do that!”

     There are rays of hope relative to encouraging Johnny to preach. Programs such as Lads to Leaders, Future Preachers and Leaders camps, Timothy Classes, mission trips, etc. We have an increasing preacher shortage. What if each of the several thousand preachers would encourage, train, and support Johnny to become a preacher? There would be no empty pulpits. The goal is “to train faithful men to train other faithful men” (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:1-3).


The author’s book 505 Observations About Preaching would be a great gift for any male, especially preachers, available on amazon.com