What Makes a Sermon Great

You don’t have to be John Piper or Mark Driscoll to preach a great sermon.  What makes a sermon great is not the fame of the preacher, the size of the sanctuary, or the volume of the speaker’s voice.

This could be a very long post, but for the sake of brevity, here are, at least, three things that a pastor should have/do to make a sermon great:

  • Passion for Jesus so hearers leave wanting to know the Jesus you know.
  • Faithfulness to the text in that you labor to explain what it means, instead of using the text to prove your points.
  • Give hard challenges to holiness so that the information you gave them (theological, cultural, social, etc.) turns from information to transformation.

As I grow older (not that I’m old), I find that these three are usually intertwined, and number three is often a fruit of the first two.  I hear so many sermons that are more like a youth group talk on Wednesday night.  It might even be biblical theology, but it is weak sauce in conviction and does nothing to challenge a person to want more of Christ in their life.

Most weeks, what a Christian needs is the velvet hammer, not the teddy bear on the Downy Soft commercials.  Sermons today lack that extra something that makes me leave and think, “I’m awful and God is supreme.  What do I need to trust him for this week?  Where do I need to repent?  What about my life needs to be transformed by his grace?”

Remember that I am not a pastor, but as a weekly hearer and as an aspiring pastor, these are things I think are essential to the preaching ministry of a pastor.   Our end goal shouldn’t be “great sermons.”  Our end goal should be to make Christ look great by glorifying him with our words and lives.  However, pastors should be ready and willing, by God’s grace, to give their best on Sunday as they proclaim God’s word in order to edify and challenge God’s people.

What other things do you think are essential to a make a sermon great?

2 replies on “What Makes a Sermon Great”

I loved the post on good sermons. I think another thing that is essential in a good sermon is good illustrations that communicate your point in a way that makes the hearers connect to the message of the text. Illustrations always make the point of the message hit home to me.


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