Union Ridge Church

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

by Reverend Dan on June 1, 2022
One of the blogs for preachers I look forward to every week recently had an entry entitled, “The 6 Signs of a Really Bad Sermon.” My first thought was, “Dang – someone has hacked my sermon files.” When I read through the entry, however, I found out that wasn’t the case (although one or two signs came dangerously close.), I also found out something interesting: the person hearing the sermon has just as much responsibility as the preacher does. Go figure!

One sign of a bad sermon is the pastor caring more about impressing people than impacting lives. Sure, we all want to be funny and profound, but that’s not why we’re there. For preachers, changing lives with God’s Word is what it should all be about. And for the person hearing the sermon? Your goal is to not always be comforted just so you can shout, “Amen!” Sometimes it should be hearing something and going, “oh, my . . . ouch!”, and being convicted that something in your life needs to change. Conviction from God’s Word, not entertainment from the preacher – that’s a sign of a good sermon.

Another sign is the mental and emotional state of the pastor when he or she stands to preach. If they’re in a bad place, they will tend to beat people up instead of build them up. They will focus on whatever is going on in their lives and take it out on the congregation. But the same applies to the hearer: whatever mood you come to church in and whatever is going on in your life; those things are going to affect the way you hear the sermon. If you’re in a bad place, you tend to be defensive and angry if the subject even nears your issue, or mad if it doesn’t. When you come to church, empty your hearts and minds to be able to truly hear God’s Word. Scripture is too sweet and powerful to be buried under the clutter of baggage from our lives, and it can give a new perspective to whatever is happening in your world that’s bringing you down.

Other issues included: watch the length (how many times have you ever heard, “Man, I wish he had preached longer?” That would be . . . NEVER!); be prepared (my downfall in reverse; I overthink stuff and end up at the end of the week spending time editing down the sermon which goes back to “watch the length”); and creativity (translated: don’t wait until the last minute and throw anything in there.) But the one that really spoke to me? Be prepared through prayer. Without spending time alone with God, the one preaching chances speaking from a human mind and not God’s Word, and the one listening chances hearing the sermon with human ears and not a Godly heart.

I love to preach, and I love the preparation. The exegesis, reading for illustrations, making a 2,000-year-old scripture relevant to today’s world (which in reality isn’t that hard – cultures and times change, but human nature doesn’t.) I love time alone with God listening for what it is that I’m supposed to say but most of all I love hearing the sermon preached to me before it’s preached to anyone else. That way, once I’ve been convicted, the passion and power of God’s Word will come through loud and clear. I just pray that it falls on ears and hearts open to receive it. God’s Word has changed, and continues to change, my life. I pray it does yours as well.