What makes a good sermon?

Ask ten people and you’ll probably get twelve opinions, but as for me, I try to ask myself these four questions when I preach a message.

Is it PERSONAL? Why would I want to hear someone tell me about my problems or possibilities without admitting to any of theirs? Why would I want to preach one to someone else if the message has no connection to me?

Is it PRACTICAL? If someone shares a valuable truth with me, shouldn’t they also help me see how to apply it? If I share a message with someone else, shouldn’t I help them see how it relates to everyday life?

Is it PASSIONATE? If I’m listening to someone preach, I want to see that they really care about what they’re saying. If I’m the one speaking, I want to make sure it really comes from
the depths of my heart, not just the top my head.

Is it PREPARED? Some people are great off the cuff, but most of the time you can tell when they’re just rambling. If I’m taking someone’s time to listen to me, I don’t want to just say something. I need to have something to say.

For me, there are also three goals that I try to reach when I share a message. I want to make sure the foundation is Scripture. This isn’t about self-help or making people feel warm and fuzzy. If I share a message it needs to be solidly settled on God’s Word.

I want to put the focus on Jesus. No generic “God talk” that’s easy and inoffensive, I want to lift up “the name above all names.”

I want to finish the sermon with hope and encouragement in Christ. At the end of the day, what more hopeful thing is there than the Good News of Jesus? No matter what hard message needs to be shared, there must always be light at the end. That’s the hope of the Gospel, that no matter how great the darkness, the light of Christ is always greater still.

How about you? When you hear a sermon, what makes it “good”, “great”, “bad” or “just okay” to you?