Have you heard a good sermon lately?

Have you heard sermons that are so good that after you leave the service, you feel encouraged that you have heard the Word of God speak clearly and directly to you? It is most likely the case that the pastor has invested time in prayer with God, the indwelling Spirit; in study and deep reflection of the scriptures; and plain hard work into the writing of the sermon—either all three or some of these.

Are you one of those people, after hearing a sermon, know that your pastor has not invested any deep thought and hard work into sermon preparation? This can be somewhat disappointing for people who walk into a church expecting to hear a good word of encouragement but end up receiving nothing from the word except for some good feeling from the beautiful worship songs. As a layperson, I have experience this and asked myself: “Why do I want to come back to this church?” So I can relate to people who have been disappointed with church.

Lawrence W. Farris says that one temptation for some pastors is to go into the old barrel to pull out some old sermons because it saves time in preparation. One of the ten “commandments” that Farris, from his book Ten Commandments for Pastors New to a Congregation, brings up is: “Thou shalt attend to thy preaching.”

I haven’t been in the ministry for very long and am just barely getting started. I hope to be ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in the very near future. Anyway, I try to put in a lot of time into sermon preparation because the spoken word of God brings encouragement and life into people’s lives. People generally do not know how much time goes into a well-crafted sermon but from what I’ve read, some suggest an hour of preparation for each minute of sermon preached. Yikes!! That’s a lot.

Farris, Lawrence W. Ten Commandments for Pastors New to a Congregation. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003. pp. 94. This a nice easy read and is full of practical information for a pastor moving to a new congregation. It’s dated but it was required reading for me in seminary. It’s useful for seminary students ready to leave the student desk for the church office.

Another very useful (but dated) book I’ve recently finished reading is:
Moore, Christopher C. Opening the Clergy Parachute: Soft Landings for Church Leaders who are seeking a Change. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995. pp. 190. This one is excellent for pastors heading into an interview situation.

A most recent, and new, book I’ve finished reading, and blogged on here, is:
Carl, William J., editor. Best Advice: Wisdom on Ministry from 30 Leading Pastors and Preachers. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009. pp. 190.

If anyone else out there knows of any good books in this same genre, feel free to share them here. I’m sure I or anyone else in ministry would be interested in hearing about them.

8 thoughts on “Have you heard a good sermon lately?

  1. Nik, thanks for the link. We need to be reminded that the onus should also be on the listener in the pews.


  2. Nik, thanks. I should be praying the pastors.

    I like your figurative rendering of siniazō because it’s very descriptive and conjures an extrememly vivid image.


  3. Kevin, I think this is one of your best posts ever. I want to congratulate you on your insight, and encourage you to really work at making excellent sermons — don’t let the bad examples on blogosphere tempt you into getting lazy.

    I’ve added my reading suggestions here.


  4. From the pews on Sunday, I am unaware of how many times the pastor woke to a cell phone during the early hours, or how many concerns he fielded during the week.

    “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon…”(from Luke 22:31,32)

    That is an example to follow; have actually been praying for the pastor more lately.

    The figurative sense of the Greek siniazō translated sift reads, “…inward agitation to try one’s faith to the verge of overthrow”.


  5. Nik, how true!

    The stresses of life can so easily get in the way. Stresses of life can also affect how well the preacher prepares the sermon (my experience). This is why we have to forgive our pastors for preaching some bad sermons. 😉


  6. Sometimes I feel that the sermon was good, but personal distractions caused by the typical stresses of life compete against the message for attention.


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