Characteristics of Good Preaching
8 Qualities of a Good Sermon
I asked people on Twitter to share the characteristics of what they thought comprised a good sermon. I compiled their helpful thoughts and came up with 8 qualities.
- Leads to the cross and trust/surrender in Jesus.
- Uses the Scriptures to unearth the heart not behavior.
- Bringing people to repentance
- Did Christ need to die for this to be true?
- Having the main thrust of the passage explained & applied in a way that grips and changes me
2. Bible-based, exegetically-sound (Intelligent but not academically arrogant)
3. Empowered by the Holy Spirit
4. Preached through a passionately changed man
- Displaying honesty and authenticity
- Inspirational (not just informational)
- Challenging and encouraging
- Humbly and compassionately
- Engaging (not boring)
6. Simple, memorable and concise with clarity of thought
7. Bible-generated points of application
- Answers the question, "So, now what?"
8. Leads to the worship of Jesus
Preaching with Smoke, Fire, Blood and Water
Kevin Bruursema, Location and Teaching Pastor at New Life Community Church in Chicago offered these nuggets on preaching in an email to me.
- Good preaching sets an aroma/atmosphere/environment that opens the way for the voice of God.
- Good preaching has the fire of living passion and illumination.
- Fire is an element that can be harnessed for good use; can be used to destroy evil things;
- Fire can also hurt good people if used improperly.
- Fire illumines and gives insight
- Good preaching only really happens if the preacher is bleeding his own blood with his message. He's suffering the truth in his own life and it lives through him.
- Good preaching has to flow from a preacher who is being cleansed with Christ's blood through repentance and obedience.
- Good preaching brings refreshing, restoration and life. It brings renewal and resurrection.
Evaluating a Sermon
This evaluation is to be used to identify strengths and weaknesses for preachers and their messages. The questions are divided into two main categories: faithfulness and communication. Dr. Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, is credited for the original thoughts for these categories.
We use this form to evaluate Acts 29 and Mars Hill sermons preached.
Faithfulness to Scripture and God. These questions are related to the preacher's theological accuracy.
1. The preaching assertions (points) were clearly rooted in the text and squared with the whole teaching of scripture. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
2. The central theme was an illustration of Christ - the message was clearly all about Jesus. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
3. The speaker seemed in awe of God, not merely focused upon his sermon and the audience. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
4. The speaker avoided moralizing or psychologizing, and distinguished these from the gospel. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
5. The goal was to get people face-to-face with God, rather than merely instruct. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
6. Christ and His finished work were applied as the practical solution to any problem. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
Message Delivery and Communication. These questions are related to the preacher's communication abilities and connection with the intended audience.
7. It was clear where the preacher was driving - and the progression of points was traceable. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
8. The points were presented in a fresh, wise, and striking way as opposed to boring & cliché. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
9. At the end of the preaching, the main point was both clear and persuasive. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
10. It was clear the speaker understood the hearers’ hopes, fears, problems, concerns, etc. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
11. The central metaphor or "hook" was gripping. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
12. Jesus was made visible, not just taught about. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
13. There was a balance of warmth, love and humility on the one hand and force, power and authority on the other. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree)
14. The notes followed the message and enhanced comprehension. (1 - Strongly Disagree 2 - Disagree 3 - Not Sure 4 - Agree 5 - Strongly Agree or N/A)
John Piper on Preaching
What I Mean by Preaching
May 12, 2009
From Desiring God website
Some of you may have little or no experience with what I mean by preaching. I think it will help you listen to my messages if I say a word about it.
What I mean by preaching is expository exultation.
PREACHING IS EXPOSITORY
Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God’s word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all 66 books of it. The preacher’s job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Every sermon should explain the Bible and then apply it to people's lives.
The preacher should do that in a way that enables you to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If you can’t see that they come from the Bible, your faith will end up resting on a man and not on God's word.
The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will
* make your spiritual bones more like steel,
* double the capacity of your spiritual lungs,
* make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God,
* and awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn’t even know existed.
PREACHING IS EXULTATION
Preaching is also exultation. This means that the preacher does not just explain what’s in the Bible, and the people do not simply try understand what he explains. Rather, the preacher and the people exult over what is in the Bible as it is being explained and applied.
Preaching does not come after worship in the order of the service. Preaching is worship. The preacher worships—exults—over the word, trying his best to draw you into a worshipful response by the power of the Holy Spirit.
My job is not simply to see truth and show it to you. (The devil could do that for his own devious reasons.) My job is to see the glory of the truth and to savor it and exult over it as I explain it to you and apply it for you. That’s one of the differences between a sermon and a lecture.
PREACHING ISN'T CHURCH, BUT IT SERVES THE CHURCH
Preaching is not the totality of the church. And if all you have is preaching, you don’t have the church. A church is a body of people who minister to each other.
One of the purposes of preaching is to equip us for that and inspire us to love each other better.
But God has created the church so that she flourishes through preaching. That’s why Paul gave young pastor Timothy one of the most serious, exalted charges in all the Bible in 2 Timothy 4:1-2, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MY PREACHING AND WHY
If you're used to a twenty-minute, immediately practical, relaxed talk, you won't find that from what I've just described.
* I preach twice that long;
* I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful;
* and I am not relaxed.
I standing vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I said there.
That's what I mean by preaching.