LifeWay Research studied 450 different sermons by different preachers of different denominations. They found that although each preacher upheld the Bible as authoritative, they all handled God’s Word differently yet effectively. The study has made us highlight the four things that make a good sermon.
1. The Word should be heard.A preacher-teacher’s central task is to present God's Word. Paul asked, "How can they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?"(Romans 10:14 HCSB). Preachers are truth-dispensers, proclaimers of the Word. However, for people to “really hear” God’s Word, they must communicate it accurately.
By accuracy, I don’t mean verbal exactness. Actually, God’s message often gets lost behind the “churchy” jargon and phrases preachers use that are not understood by the public. However biblical they may sound, listeners miss the truths if our language is foreign and they cannot relate with it. Words like “holy,” “righteousness” and “propitiation” and many other “church language” are usually understood by insiders only and should not be used without laborious explanation with the uninitiated. When people can’t “really hear,” they can’t believe and their lives won’t be affected.
2. The Word should be organized.If God is orderly, then the proclamation of his Word should be orderly also. A good structure is vital in communicating Bible truths, as listeners want to make sense of the message and allows them to grab the truth more easily. As a well-organized toolbox enables one to find a tool even in the dark, so is a clearly and logically organized sermon or Bible lesson.
Hence, the need to consider our listeners when communicating Bible truths.In our study of the 450 sermons, we found that whether they be textual, thematic or topical, or expository, preaching was good and effective as long as it was focused on the Scriptures, helped listeners to apply the Word to their lives effectively, and let people see the truths demonstrated in true-to-life experiences of Bible characters.
3. The Word should be sufficient.Preachers may use extra-biblical resources like a movie clip, a quotation from popular culture, or a timely comment by an outstanding person to enrich their messages. While these things are helpful, the best way still to explain Scripture is with Scripture itself. A good explanation of the background of a text is the best way to clarify its meaning. About four out of ten preachers effectively used the context of their texts to make truths stand out.Cross-references from other sections of the Bible was uniquely helpful also.
4. The Word should be useful.God's Word makes a difference in people’s lives. When it is preached boldly and authoritatively, people change. Paul told Timothy that the Scriptures are not only inspired, but also profitable in equipping us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16 HCSB). By “Scriptures,” he meant not just the New Testament, but specifically the Old Testament. Good preaching, therefore, must cover “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
How we handle the Word of God matters. God has given us His Word so His flock could be fed with it. As we seek to communicate it, let do so with authority and clarity. Let nothing about us and the way we handle it get in the way and keep people from hearing the true Word of God.-nm01/25/2014.