an ex-evangelical doing a year of living christianly
What Makes a Good Sermon
by MW Cook
I’m always a little sad when I see that sermons are starting to get weeded out of most people’s spirituality. I mean, I agree that sermons and listening to sermons should never be the main part of your Jesus-life, but I think they have a place. Or, at least, a use.
I’ve always liked good sermons. And I enjoy preaching them. But, as much as I like good sermons, bad ones kill me. And if they kill me, I often wonder what people are going through when I preach a bad one. So I started to think, what makes a good sermon?
A good sermon is exciting. I don’t think excitement is optional when we are discussing Jesus. If you can discuss the Jesus-life and Jesus himself without a raised pulse, then you’re doing a lecture, rather than a sermon. Jesus is exciting. People who think he’s boring have only heard boring people talk about him.
A good sermon makes me want to be a better person. If I walk away from a sermon the exact same person I was when I walked in, I have to wonder why I went. Sermons are tools to prod us on to doing wild Jesus-filled things. They aren’t lectures on impersonal metaphysics.
A good sermon is true. It’s a poor preacher that has to lie to get his listeners to do what he wants. A good preacher only wants his listeners to fall more in love with Truth and to live it.
A good sermon is honest. People can smell hypocrisy a mile away. Do you know what hypocrisy smells like? It smells like poo. And when people think of your sermons, you don’t want them thinking about poo. Trust me.
A good sermon is clear. Preachers gain no points in being vague or aloof. No one thinks you’re smart because you know words like supralapsarianism. The preacher’s goal is to communicate divine messages. Not to impress.
A good sermon may rock the boat. The sermon on the mount rocked the boat. Just because everyone nods theirs heads and mumbles ‘amen’ does not mean the sermon is of any use. A good sermon changes people and makes the world a better place. And to do that, it may need to rock the boat a little.