The Ballestero Blog

"That's what I'm talking about!"

Using Verbal Crutches and Fillers (aka… Sermon Suicide)

with 8 comments

This is a plea to all ministers and church service leaders.

I have no permission or authority to speak on this subject or attempt to correct or adjust anyone’s speaking habits. But I will tell you something that your listeners won’t tell you. Your family and friends, and pastor may never say a word either, so you think you’re doing just fine, when you’re really not.

Although I’ve never graduated from a Bible school or seminary, and sadly, I have no degree, I was home-schooled in the ministry by my father and pastor, Carl J. Ballestero.

 In my nearly 80 years of going to church, I have listened to some of the best preachers in Pentecost and have even heard a few who made me cringe.

After preaching over 10,000 sermons, I understand about being being nervous in the pulpit.

But you should never forget that your loud voice and fast talking does not necessarily mean you’re anointed. One can even teach a Wednesday night Bible class in conversational tones and be very anointed.

To me it is a spiritual crime to have God give you a word for His church, and then, while you try to deliver it, you allow your insecurities, lack of study, and absence of self-awareness to turn off your listeners.

Verbal crutches and fillers have destroyed thousands of sermons.

Verbal crutches and fillers like:

  • Amen!
  • Amen?
  • Praise God
  • Hallelujah
  • Glory to God
  • God Almighty
  • Almighty God
  • Brothers and Sisters
  • Uh.
  • Umm.
  • I can’t hear you!(Isn’t that lying?)
  • Turn to someone and say…

One minister who preached for me when I pastored in South Bend, IN said, “Do you hear me?” 154 times in one sermon. I cannot remember what he preached about. The constant “Do you hear me” killed the sermon for me. I never asked him to come back.

As a teen-age preacher, I’d visited a well-known pastor in the deep South. It was common for him to say, “Bless God” throughout his sermons. I came home, and when I was asked to preach on a youth night, I, too, said, “Bless God” often in my message. My father cautioned me afterward about using verbal crutches. He said, “When you say, ‘Bless God’. You’re not really blessing Him, You’re just taking His name in vain.”

I never said that again.

Preacher? Remember that there really are people in your audience who will count all of your amens and hallelujahs and completely lose track of your sermon thought.

Listen to yourself online, sometime, and count your verbal crutches and speech fillers; then be self-aware enough to stop saying those things.

Imagine what Acts 2:38 would have sounded like if Peter used verbal crutches

Or the 23rd. Psalm?

Or Isa.9:6?

Imagine Peter saying…

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, Amen… and be baptized every one of you, Amen…  in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen… for the remission of sins, Amen… and ye shall, Amen…  receive the gift, Amen… of the Holy Ghost…Amen…

Acts 2:39  For the promise, Amen… is unto you, Amen…and to your children, Amen… and to all that are afar off Amen… even as many as the Lord our God shall call…Amen.

Try quoting that for your altar call, and see how much conviction is still left in the house.

Imagine Isaiah saying

Isa. 9:6 For unto us a child is born, Brothers and Sisters…unto us a son is given, Brothers and Sisters…: and the government shall be upon his shoulder, Brothers and Sisters…: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Brothers and Sisters…The mighty God, Brothers and Sisters… The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, Brothers and Sisters…

(Imagine trying to read that at your Christmas service.)

How about David using fillers?

Psa 23:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. Praise God

Psa 23:2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: Praise God…he leadeth me beside the still waters. Praise God

Psa 23:3  He restoreth my soul Praise God… he leadeth me Praise God in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Praise God

Psa 23:4  Yea, though I walk Praise God through the valley of the shadow of death, Praise God I will fear no evil Praise God… for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me, Praise God…

Psa 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Praise God thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Praise God

Psa 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy Praise God… shall follow me all the days of my life: Praise God and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Praise God… Praise God

(Everyone would stop quoting the 23rd. Psalm.)

Neither the prophets nor the apostles used verbal crutches or fillers in their speaking. Why do you? Stop it, please!

Written by Martyn Ballestero

June 29, 2022 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. I’m not a minister or service leader, but I sure enjoy your blog posts. I had to chuckle while reading this one because you are so (amen) on point (amen)!

    Kendra Purtell

    June 29, 2022 at 4:57 pm

  2. Great Blog. This is so true. Love you!

    Anthony Ballestero | Pastor

    This email contains information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure. Dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited except by the intended recipient(s).

    Anthony Ballestero

    June 29, 2022 at 5:01 pm

  3. “Is anybody herein’ me?!l

    “Come on somebody!”

    Well said Elder. Such things sure can destroy a good message by distraction alone.

    Peter Connell

    June 29, 2022 at 5:32 pm

  4. Excellent and wise words, Elder. Thank you!!


    June 29, 2022 at 6:17 pm

  5. Two that I have heard: “Hello?!” and “You’ll get that on the way home”. These can come across very condescending.

    Elise Webster

    June 29, 2022 at 9:55 pm

  6. Equally distracting in Spanish – especially while interpreting for visiting English Preachers. If we missionaries have to translate each “filler word”, the poor sheep hear it twice. I trust you can feel the sincerity in this. Missionaries desperately need preachers to correct this issue. I believe you have permission and authority to address this. Sincerely requesting more from you on this subject.

    Samuel M. Golden

    June 29, 2022 at 9:59 pm

  7. Thank you, Elder, for your words of wisdom. Although I try very hard to be straight forward with the Word while preaching/teaching, I’m sure there are crutches I use that may be different than the ones you mentioned.

    Elder, I really enjoy your blogs and glean so much from them. I would love to have you return to Fort Worth sometime to preach for us. There is still a church here that stands for the old paths. God bless you and your ministry.

    David Sheppard

    June 30, 2022 at 9:20 am

  8. I’m not a minister but this works with testifying also. I find myself using fillers because I feel awkward trying to testify. I have caught myself counting fillers and lose track of what’s being said. Thank you from a Pentecostal filler who is working on not using fillers😀 Love you and Sister Ballestero and pray for you.

    Sandy Shamblin

    June 30, 2022 at 1:22 pm

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