Posted by: morgan1965 | July 22, 2011

What Is The Secret Of A Good Sermon?

I’ll be honest with you; I do not tolerate long sermons well. How about you?

I remember a retired pastor who had some advice for public speakers. He said that a speaker first should stand up and be seen. Second, the speaker should speak up and be heard. Finally, the speaker should sit down and be quiet. His view was that a speaker or preacher should be brief in his or her presentation.

There were some exceptions to my limit of tolerance for the length of a sermon. I remember Dr. Henry Hitt Crane who preached several times in the chapel of our college campus during religion in life week. He was a very popular preacher and effective speaker. He would preach in chapel for an hour and the students and faculty would remain until the end. I really “enjoyed” his preaching. He was a dynamic preacher. But he was an exception. Dr. Crane had a way of drawing his audience into his sermon and holding them.

My father was a dynamic preacher; but, I never heard him preach for an hour. He used a conversational style of preaching and he loved to tell stories, especially the biblical stories. He often quoted the great hymns of the church. His sermons would arrest the congregation’s attention and keep them fully engaged until the sermon was ended. His counsel to me was to know my sermon material and prepare in advance of the preaching event (Sunday worship service). He suggested that 30 minutes was ample time to preach a good sermon. I agree; but I have been guilty of exceeding that limit at times.

John Wesley who was a prolific preacher mastered the art of engaging his hearers in a manner that would not only hold their attention, but cause them to act on what they had heard. He had a sermonic approach that allowed him to summarize his sermon at the beginning, then expound on the text, and review the lessons for the hearers in a plain an understandable manner.

Well, how long should a good sermon be? In answering this question, the preacher perhaps should give due consideration to the endurance of his/her congregation. The congregation’s endurance might very well be linked to the quality of the sermon material and the skill of the delivery. One should know when his/her sermon is finished. There is nothing more boring than when a preacher keeps preaching when the sermon has already ended.

George Burns offers some useful advice about determining a good sermon. He said: “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.”

Think about it!

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