What if there was a way to identify bad preaching? Having grown up in church, I have probably listened to over 1,000 sermons in my lifetime. In all my time listening to (and now delivering) sermons, I have heard three types of bad preaching:
In trampoline preaching, the speakers “jumps” from the text to what he really wants to say. Sure, the text has nothing to do with politics, but hey, let’s go on a rant about Democrats, Republicans, or someone else we don’t like! The speaker doesn’t allow the text to control the sermon. He imposes his own views, opinions, or feelings onto the text. Such preaching is selfish. It is not done to encourage the audience. It is not done in submission to Christ. It is done to satisfy the ego of the preacher.
Find the “Big Idea”—the one thing the whole thing is saying. Summarizing your Bible passage in one sentence will keep your sermon on point and reflect what the Bible is actually saying. You will preach what God is saying, not what you want to say.
Law preaching emphasizes what we must do to please God. Law sermons can range from, “Slaying the giants in your life” to seven tips for a successful marriage. What these sermons have in common is human action. The message becomes all about us. We are the heroes! The Bible presents things drastically different: Jesus is the hero, not us. He’s the one who fulfilled God’s law on our behalf. We could never be perfect; Jesus was.
Preach the gospel every time. It’s possible to make Jesus the central Hero of every sermon which is what people really need. Leave the self-help talks to the self-help gurus (They’re much better at that sort of thing, anyway). Preach Christ and Him crucified.
Ah, the newly minted seminary student sermon! Going to seminary is a great thing. The kinds of sermons you hear from seminary students…not so much. Why? Because young seminary students often dump out all of their theological knowledge on the audience. It’s exciting to learn about the Trinity, and the various controversies surrounding the deity and humanity of Christ. But such knowledge is lost on most people in the typical church audience.
Make application first and make application last. You’re not preaching to give information. You’re preaching for life transformation! This means applying the truth of Christ found in the passage to your congregation. Pick up Preaching Sticky Sermons to find out about more practical ways to weave application throughout your sermon.
What Would You Add?
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