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What’s the difference in a good and not-so-good sermon? Is it us, you, me? Is it our own hearts and attitudes more than the details, construction, or delivery of the message? Perhaps, but for now I’ll leave that thought for another day. I’ve been thinking about “What makes a good sermon?”

Have you ever listened to a sermon and thought it was one of the best, most moving you’d ever heard? Or maybe you heard a sermon that you thought was a masterpiece, constructed in a way that hit a spiritual and maybe an oratorical home run?

On the flip side, ever listened to a sermon and wondered what the speaker was trying to say? What was his point anyway? After awhile, do you even care? Or have your ever listened to a sermon and wondered what the speaker was thinking when he put it together?

Now I’m not a theologian or a preacher. I’ve not attended seminary and I’m not ordained. So maybe I’m not one to address the question “What makes a good sermon?” On the other hand, I’ve listened to thousands of sermons and I am a speaker, having presented a few hundreds of sermons along the way—hopefully a few good ones and undoubtedly more than a few not-so-good ones.

But before I dive in, I must acknowledge two other considerations that get in the way of an unbiased evaluation of sermon quality. It’s possible that, along with the heart matters I mentioned earlier, determining what makes a good sermon is a matter of taste or preference. Like everything else, I suppose there are some things about a sermon that makes it likeable and appreciated by one but not another listener. If this is so, than what I’m going to say suggests more about my preferences than about the independent merits of a given sermon.

Finally, there’s the possibility that the whole question of the “likeability” of a sermon might be the wrong question. Certainly it’s possible, in fact I think I’ve experienced it, that a perceived "un-liked" sermon can indeed be a needed, convicting, and beneficial one in the providence and work of the Holy Spirit.

So with all that, heart matters, taste, and the spiritual potential of “un-liked” sermons, it seems like I’ve talked myself into a corner that admits to no criteria for identifying a good from a not-so-good sermon. But still, I don’t think so. What do you think?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

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