Wikipedia helps for preaching

If Google Docs can help me loose weight, why not Wikipedia for preaching? (Not that I’m preaching much these days.)

Not for fact-checking (though I find a well-cited article is helpful for follow-up reading) but for style. Wikipedia has a house style that helps improve reading and factual quality while smoothing out writer idiosyncrasies. While I would hate all preaching to sound alike — and that’s the limit of a common style — there are enough preachers out there (novices, the rusty, the undisciplined, the harried) who could benefit from dispassionate rules and I know there are a few congregations that would approve!

A good number Unitarian Universalist preachers I’ve known have a special set of bad habits, including making broad, unsupported claims. (A breathy, faux-spiritual delivery is another: good style can’t help everything.) Reading and abiding Wikipedia’s counsel against peacock terms and weasel words could well right help.

The full list of style articles (Wikipedia)

Categorized as Preaching

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Peregrinato wrote the following, but I accidentally deleted (rather than approved) it — sorry:

    I’m not sure how I feel about Wiki’s advice against weasel words. Some people might find it useful, I guess.

    Oh wait, I couldn’t say that in a Wiki document…

    I’m speaking specifically of their discussion about the bandwagon fallacy. I think there’s plenty of use in discussion for phrases like “some people” or “most people,” unless we’re trying to drive home a firmly empirical point which has to be supported by citable evidence. It all depends on context and application, I guess, and I hate prescriptive advice that could easily be translated as “never say ‘most people'”.

    Otherwise, yes, simple speech is best.

    As far as breathy faux-spiritual voice–I know what you’re talking about. I’ve heard it and I’ m not really fond of it either.

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