I make no claims to be an extraordinary preacher, and I’m always hesitant to make any comments on another person’s preaching. Nevertheless, I share my opinions here in hopes of helping all of us continually think about how we can improve.
- I learn more from many sermons today than I did growing up. Perhaps that’s because I’m an adult now, but I think the reason is more basic: more preachers are working hard to provide context, background, etc., to frame a proper understanding of the text. Presented concisely and clearly, that information is helpful.
- Some sermons are too long. I’m not opposed to longer sermons, but I do think we must be sensitive to the people we’re trying to reach and disciple. If you’re going to preach 45-60 minutes, make sure you do it well. In my opinion, if I can’t preach a good sermon in 30 minutes, I probably can’t do it in 45 minutes, either.
- Some sermon series are too long. Again, I’m not opposed to a long sermon series, especially when expositing a longer book of the Bible. I do wonder, though, if spending years in a single book is always the best way to expose our oft-transient congregations to the whole counsel of God.
- Some folks use humor poorly. Effective use of humor can draw in hearers, but poor use can be distracting. If the joke doesn’t help illuminate truth – and/or if you’re a bad joke-teller – I’d cut it from your outline.
- Much exposition could be stronger. Simply opening the Bible and attempting to explain and apply a text does not automatically make one a good expository preacher. Most of us have at times explained a text poorly and applied it weakly.
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Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.