“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.” George Burns
Do any of us like being preached to or about? I grew up in church and have heard sermons on all kinds of topics. Some are motivating and some are condemning. Many draw us close to God, and some cause us to think about most anything except God. Often times, I’ve wondered myself, what is a good sermon?
Each week I have the pleasure of translating sermons from Thai to English to a group of devoted listeners in our balcony. The thing I enjoy about translating is that I have to stay focused on the sermon throughout. Unfortunately, I can remember several Sundays when I found myself practically asleep while translating.
The question then comes again, what makes a good sermon? Here are a few of my conclusions:
1. Sermons should draw us to experience the presence of God. Experiencing God’s presence should be a very exciting event. This doesn’t happen by eloquent speech. It happens when a speaker is allowing God to use him or her in a way that points others to God. Many times, speakers focus on themselves rather than on God.
2. Sermons should inspire a spiritual change. In the time when the Israelites approached God, holiness was of utmost importance. Today, we often forget about the holiness of God. We approach church as we approach any other activity. I wonder what might happen if both the speaker and the church members were to prepare themselves to meet a holy God each day or at least each week when going to church. Would God inspire spiritual changes in us because we have prepared ourselves to truly meet Him?
3. Sermons should be presented in a memorable way. On many occasions, I’ve heard people say that, “I had something prepared, but I just feel that I should abandon that…” I usually feel that the speaker really hasn’t prepared themselves well when they start this way. I believe that preparation and presentation are important–not for show, but to give our best effort when serving God. Memorable sermons help us digest the information over a longer period of time.
4. Sermons should be based on God’s word. A good speech is just that–a good speech. In order to turn people to God though, we need to look at His word and let His word speak to His people.
What wonderful sermons have inspired you to make spiritual changes or draw close to God?