"That was a good sermon."
"Wow! That sermon hit home!"
"I'm going to think about this one."
"That was your best sermon ever."
You've probably heard all of these comments.
But can you articulate what made the sermon good? Did your sermon work because of luck, skill, grace, or a combination? Do you know how to capitalize on your good sermons to make the next ones even better?
What about your other sermons, the ones that were just so-so? (Or worse? We've all preached 'em!) Can you articulate why they didn't work?
Wouldn't you like to ensure that every sermon is "good?"
But what, exactly, makes a "good" or "effective" sermon? Beyond being moved by a sermon message, what makes one sermon work more than another? Can you name it?
The #1 way to know if your sermon is any good
is to know what a good sermon is.
What is your definition of a "good" sermon?
- What does a good sermon contain?
- What are its elements?
- What are you looking for?
- Hoping to hear?
- Can you write a definition?
We can only get there if we know where we're headed.
If you have a definition of a "good" or "effective" sermon, write it on a piece of paper and tape it to your computer monitor to refer to when you write your sermon. Aim for this definition every time. Use it as your editor to appraise your sermon before and after you preach.
But if you can't articulate what a "good" sermon is (I prefer "effective" to "good"), you can use my definition:
"An effective sermon
offers a clear message of Good News
that is authentic to the preacher,
relevant to the listener,
keeps their attention,
and invites transformation."
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Consider these five aspects.
- A clear message of Good News.
The Good News of Jesus Christ that we are loved and forgiven is offered unmistakably.
- Authentic to the preacher
Do you believe what you say in your sermons? How did you come to that belief? Why do you believe it?
- Relevant to your listeners
How do you know which aspect of the Good News your listeners need to hear? What are their needs, concerns, fears and hopes?
- Keeps their attention
We want to keep our listeners' attention so they have a chance to hear and absorb the Good News.
- Invites transformation
A sermon is a sermon (and not a speech) when we show the Holy Spirit welcoming us to be more Christ-like for the world.
In light of these questions, consider your last sermon. Answer the following.
- What was the sermon's message?
- Was it clear?
- What was the Good News?
- Did you believe it?
- Did the message of Good News matter to your listeners?
- Did the sermon keep their attention?
- Did the sermon invite them to be or act more like Christ?
Likewise, when you listen to someone else preach, listen for these five aspects. What made their sermon work that you could learn from? What didn't work that you could learn from?
To consider each of these five aspects of an effective sermon is a lot,
but each of these skills can be studied, practiced, and improved until every sermon you preach is an effective one.
That's what we're going to do together in this series of posts: explore each of these aspects so that your sermons effectively proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
So let's start at the beginning.
How do you discern a clear message of Good News?
How do you make sure it's understandable to you
so you can offer it plainly to your listeners?
What questions do you have so you can preach more effectively? Let me know.
I'm here to help you "Be Good News to Preach Good News."
PS Feel free to forward this to a preaching friend.
PPS I got my email fixed! I didn't know I wasn't receiving my messages until recently. I apologize for the confusion.
Click here for your free download: Backstory Preaching® Effective Sermon Definition