How to Evaluate Your Sermon Before You Preach It - Part 2
Thought Leader: Jeff Francis, M.A.
This is the second part of our 3 part series on evaluating your sermon before you preach it. In this article we look at three more areas for you to consider when preparing a sermon.
How do you think considering these areas could impact your sermons in a positive way before you ever preach them?
4. HOLY SPIRIT’S POWER: Every sermon must speak the very words of God to his people & make clear that we cannot obey the message without the help of the Spirit.
We cannot accomplish anything we’re preaching in our sermons and the people cannot do anything we’re asking them to do without the help of the Spirit. Not only do you need to be empowered as a preacher, but we all need God’s empowerment as a spouse, parent, mechanic, teacher, etc. Are we giving opportunities to receive this empowerment and reminding them of their dependence on it?
I’m convinced most Pentecostal churches don’t really believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that big of a deal. If we did, we’d give people an opportunity to receive this gift on a consistent basis and not just a couple of times a year. I believe every sermon should say something like, “You know, what we’ve been talking about here sounds good, right? But it’s a lot harder to live out. I want you to know that if you are trying to do this on your own you aren’t going to make it. It’ll never happen. Jesus promised that his Spirit would be with us and help us to do what he’s called us to do. How are you relying on his Spirit to live this out in your life?”
This doesn’t mean you have to give a mini baptism of the Holy Spirit sermon every week. It simply means that we must let people know they aren’t going to be able to do anything we ask of them in our sermons simply because they tried really hard.
If Jesus needed the help of the Spirit, so do we.
Questions to ask
- Have I made it clear that the only way to live out this message is with the help of the Spirit?
- Have I given them an opportunity to seek the Spirit for his help?
- Have I prayed that God would help my people hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to them?
- Have I prayed asking God’s Spirit to empower me and my preaching?
- How do I sense the work and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in my daily life?
5. GRACE: Every sermon must make clear that our obedience to God is in response to his love and grace (and not to earn it).
As mentioned in Part 1, we encourage, instruct, command, push, pull and beg people to grow. But, we have to let them know there is abundant grace available. Our motivation for growth is not to earn God’s favor but because we already have his favor. I believe every message should say something like, “What I’m asking us to commit to today is hard. Really hard. We’re going to make mistakes. I want you to know that it’s okay. God offers us his grace through this growth process. What motivates us to do what God is calling us to do here is because of how much he loves us.”
If we’re not careful, our preaching can become bipolar. We tell sinners that they can’t earn their way to heaven and that they need God’s grace, but then we give believers a list of things they are supposed to do. We give unbelievers a message of grace and believers a message of law. The goal of our preaching is not behavior modification. We are not trying to create better, more productive citizens. We’re trying to help people understand how much God loves them. And in response to that love, we help them learn how to love God back. But our obedience to God is in response to his love, not so that we can earn it.
Questions to ask
- Is it clear in this message that God offers grace when we sin and fail?
- Have I motivated people to obey the message in response to God’s love and not to earn it?
- Have I offered hope to those that are struggling?
- Have I been transparent in the message so people understand I am in the struggle with them and also in need of God’s grace?
- Does this message fill me with hope as I consider God’s grace in my life?
6. A LOVING PREACHER: Every sermon needs a preacher that loves people.
This is of course not so much about the content of the message but the messenger. I don’t need to tell you how important this is. Most preachers love preaching. Not as many love people. That’s really unfortunate. When preaching becomes the basis for our ministry, we get entirely off track. It’s about people. The reason I believe the other 9 principles listed in this series are so important is because these sermons are being preached to real people with real issues and real struggles.
Preachers often pray right before their sermons. We pray things like, “God, help me to speak well and remember my message. Help me to preach the gospel. Let the words that come out of my mouth be from you. I pray that people will be saved and healed. May they respond to this message.” That’s all wonderful. But, how often do you pray, “God, when this sermon is over, may these people know how much I love them.”
Questions to ask
- Have I spent time praying for my people this week outside of preaching? or just for my preaching?
- By the words I say and the way I say them, will my people understand how much I love them?
- Will this message make it clear how much God loves them?
- In what ways have I shown love for my people?
- Am I spending time with people and building relationships outside of church?
Does the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, grace, and love describe you and your preaching? It can as you consider these steps in the preparation of each of your sermons. Check out Part 3 of our series where we’ll discuss our last 4 areas.
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