WHAT MAKES A GREAT SERMON
Everyone who preaches or teaches the Bible wants to make sure their message is effective and well received. We want our sermons to be great. But how can we tell if they are or not? Some say a message is great when there is a lot of emotional appeal, loud speaking and deep feelings from the speaker. Others say there must be a great response from the listeners. Some think a message must be very long to be great, others say it must be very short. Then some speakers want to entertain and think a good message is one the people enjoy and are entertained. None of these things make a message great. They could be great, but not for these reasons. So, what does make a sermon powerful and special?
The message lifts Jesus up, even if it is an Old Testament passage. People need soul-feeding, heart-healing, mind-training, truth-telling, grace-dispensing, hope-directing, life-giving, Christ-exalting preaching. We need preaching that brings us to Jesus and his host of benefits and protections. What does this look like?
First, Jesus, not the speaker, gets the spotlight. Many times, after I am in a church service, my thoughts are on the dress, actions, emotions, personality or expressions of the pastor. He comes across so strong that Jesus takes second place in my heat and thoughts. Preaching is not about us but about Jesus. We are to lift Him up, not ourselves. It is human nature to want to be liked, to have people respond to us and to be popular – but that is not the purpose of preaching or teaching God’s Word. People come to church to meet with Jesus, or at least that’s why they should come. If they don’t connect with Jesus, they go home empty. Our souls are striving for nourishment and Jesus alone is the one who provides it (John 6:55). Our spirits need fresh oxygen and Jesus alone is true life (John 14:6). We are weary and only Jesus brings hope and rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Only Jesus can remove the sin, guilt, shame and burdens people carry. Only He can bring hope and peace to the struggling and broken. Only He can cleanse, mend, heal, direct, shepherd and protect us.
A sermon without Jesus is like an empty prescription bottle—it may appear helpful from the outside, but there’s nothing inside that can actually heal us. Or, as Charles Spurgeon memorably said, “A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.”
Before you preach or teach, ask yourself, “Does this message clearly show who Jesus is and what He has done? Is the Gospel and the hope we have in Jesus clearly shown? Not every passage you speak on will be about Jesus, but He must be brought into every message for He is the heart and core of what we believe.
Ask yourself before speaking, “Does this message bring attention to me, or to Jesus? Will people leave knowing more about Him and hunger for more of Him?” Will the people leave thinking, “What a great preacher!” or “What a great Savior.” As John said, He must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30). (July 31, 2023 Doylestown, PA)
John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
Do your sermons and messages focus on Jesus, even if you are peaching from the Old Testament?
Do people leave your church thinking about the pastor or the Savior?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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