Some comments taken from a question Scot McKnight once asked: What is the purpose of the sermon?
From this perspective (an admittedly limited one) I think that a good sermon will hold my interest, teach me something new or provide a different perspective or twist of insight into something I know, encourage or convict me to actually live out my faith.
My view of a “good sermon” is one that is really educational about Faith, scripture, and practical application to the real world. It’s nice to be feel good and lofty in idealism, but at the end of the day, The Word needs to be viewed with the real world in mind so it can convey a practical, meaningful message.
I’m most fed when I either learn something (about God, Jesus, or how I can better relate to Him), when I’m motivated to act out my faith, or when I’m encouraged. I guess I would say that the purpose is to preach the Gospel and to edify the church.
Sermons engage me when it’s clear that the preacher has some understanding (need not be exhaustive) of what is being conveyed. There needs to be a flow of ideas and not a lot of “uhms” and circular statements: please, take me somewhere! I personally need to know how what is being preached bears on the meaning of scripture, or the liturgy, or life in God- hopefully all three. And I believe this can be done in less than 15 minutes, preferably no more than ten. I’m also in a church with a Eucharist-centered service.
I’ve been churched all my life. Memorable sermons? About five. Details? Nah- what I remember is the Main Thing. But there’s a better chance that later Sunday or during the week I’ll think about the ideas in the sermon if I’m engaged as above.
I’m tired of sermons that are nothing more than a prepared speech. There needs to be more spontaneity, honesty, conversing and less shouting, fist-pounding, and clever plays on words or three-point alliterated outlines. It needs to have relatability. For me the sermon starts me thinking to such a degree that I don’t forget it immediately after the service but keep mulling over its contents during the week, maybe doing my own study or checking out some other’s comments, incorporating the challenges into my prayers and using it as a framework for my personal conversation with God during the week. … In essence, a sermon needs to be memorable and inspiring beyond the time it takes to shake the preacher’s hand and say ‘nice job.’
It’s been a long time since I heard such a sermon at my church.
This is just a selection. I tried to pick comments that were written by listeners rather than preachers. I hear two things. Teach me something I did not know. Tell me what I can do next.