Every week I have the incredible opportunity of standing before a group of people to proclaim the truths of God’s Word.
It’s a heavy task, but one I firmly believe God called me to sixteen years ago.
And here’s the kicker…
I still haven’t figured it out!
You’d think after sixteen years of doing something you’d become proficient in that field. You’d think it would become easier. Yet, each week I find myself laboring over God’s Word, seeking to understand its meaning, and then crafting a message in a creative way that appeals to the audience.
Yes. I said it.
“Appeals to the audience” doesn’t mean the goal is entertainment. It means the goal is to draw in. Like Paul appealed to his child in the faith Onesimus (Phm 1:10), we should appeal, exhort, draw in, even summons people to respond to God’s Word.
There’s boring preaching and there’s great preaching. As I reflect upon the great preaching of my spiritual mentors, both past and present, I see four essential elements to every great sermon.
Contrary to what some may think, you can’t print out a great sermon on Saturday night. Sure, it may have been a great sermon when it was preached by that pastor at that church. But to assume you can duplicate that greatness is like thinking you can hit home runs like Adrian Beltre just by copying his swing. (I’m a Rangers fan!)
Great sermons are proceeded by great preparation. There must be time alone with God, allowing His Word to penetrate deep within your heart, wrestling with the hard truths, and waiting as the Holy Spirit begins to draw out a specific message and application.
How much time? I know for me, it varies. Sometimes the message comes quickly, and other times I wrestle with it all week long. It depends on the message and it depends on where you are spiritually.To assume you can duplicate that greatness is like thinking you can hit home runs like Adrian Beltre just by copying his swing. Click To Tweet
I read in monotone. But I doubt Peter was speaking monotone when he proclaimed, “God raised Him from the dead!” I’m sure he said these words in excitement with a smile on his face, enthusiasm in his voice, and passion in his heart.
Passion is important because it communicates that you actually believe what you are saying. Passion isn’t just yelling and screaming a sermon. It’s preaching with conviction. Passion is what moves you to tears, ignites a righteous anger, or elates in pure joy. No great sermon is preached without passion.No great sermon is preached without passion. Click To Tweet
When preaching, you’re building a coherent case not a simply sharing disconnected thoughts and viewpoints. The message should move people purposefully toward an outcome or goal. Maybe that’s a call to salvation, a decision to make, a sin to confess, or a step of faith to take.
In fact, if you’re not able to summarize your message in one simple sentence, you may not be preaching with purpose.
The ultimate purpose is to point others to greater commitment to Jesus. At the end of the sermon, if people are impressed with my knowledge of the Bible, but don’t know how to follow Jesus, then I’ve missed the mark.If you're not able to summarize your message in one simple sentence, you may not be preaching with purpose. Click To Tweet
When you preach and teach from God’s Word there is an inherent authority that comes with it (Hebrews 4:12). There’s a supernatural power that occurs when the Holy Spirit takes the message from the listener’s ears and moves it to their hearts. That’s God’s work, not ours.
So how do we preach with power? I would say the power of your sermon is directly connected to the first three elements. The more you prepare, preach from passion, and preach with purpose the more power and authority you will display when you preach.
I can’t speak authoritatively on the best weightlifting practices for athletes. I haven’t prepared. I’m not passionate about it. And I certainly don’t see the purpose.
Preach sermons you have personally prepared. Preach sermons with passion. Preach sermons with purpose. Then watch the powerful Word of God draw people toward greater commitment to Jesus!
These are four elements I’ve witnessed in great sermons. What do you say makes a great sermon? I’d like to hear your thoughts!