I recently read an article by a former lead pastor, Shawn King, called “10 Honest Observations of a Former Church Insider.” In this very eye-opening blog post, he states that sermons are hardly ever memorable. This is not surprising. I know people who have said, “Man, that was an awesome sermon”; but when asked what it was about the response was, “I don’t know, but he sure did preach.”
To be quite honest, regardless of style, preaching is an art form. The rise and fall of the voice, body language, sentence structure, and being relatable are part of delivering a “good sermon.” Just like any other art form, some are better at it than others; we all have our favorites. Some have a natural talent for preaching, while others develop along the way. But if what Shawn King said is true, then I have to wonder, what do we value in a “good sermon”?
I believe good preaching moves people. Whenever a person delivers a well prepared, thought-provoking, completely relatable sermon, one can’t help but to be moved with emotion, or at least be impressed. It has been said that “good preaching makes preachers want to preach”, and that’s true (I can vouch for that). I can’t count the number of times a sermon has made me cry, or rejoice, or even made me angry. However, those are all emotional responses.
Have we forgotten that preaching is a means by which God speaks to us? Do we regularly and readily dismiss a sermon as if it weren’t an inspired Word from God? Please, don’t misunderstand me, not EVERY sermon is God speaking, but I can’t help but wonder, do we really know the difference.
Inspired preaching causes the hearer to change in some way. Inspired preaching doesn’t just move us emotionally, but it moves us to action. So then, if most sermons aren’t memorable, are preachers not inspired by God, or have we become so common with God’s Word that we judge it based on style or three points and a whoop?
We need to reevaluate ourselves and how serious we take God’s Word. And for my fellow preachers, pastors and teachers, listen to what Paul says to the church at Corinth:
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.