10 Reflections on Today’s Preaching

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.  

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. Application often needs work. We can help hearers understand where the Scriptures intersect with their lives without our assuming the place of the Holy Spirit; indeed, I agree with Bryan Chapell that we are mistaken if we think hearers will automatically make that Scripture-to-life connection.* Many preachers, though, struggle with application.
  7. Some preachers are boring. I don’t know how else to make that point, so there it is. It would probably do us all well to hear a gut-level, no-hold-barred, honest analysis of our sermon on any given Sunday; if the reviews always point toward “boring,” we’ve got some work to do. 
  8. Many sermons lack Jesus. If members of the early Church listened to some of our sermons, I think they’d wonder what happened to the centrality of Christ. 
  9. We have little excuse not to improve in our preaching. More and more churches are offering internships for young preachers. Preaching classes are now available through online and hybrid delivery systems. Via the Internet, we can listen to the best preaching any day of the week. Others can likewise listen to our preaching and give us needed feedback. In some ways, we have more options than ever to strengthen our work of proclaiming the Word.
  10. We have opportunity to hear some really good preachers via the Internet. Despite my concerns listed here, I’m grateful for so many phenomenal preachers around – those that clearly teach and apply the Word out of a holy heart in love with God. I long to be such a person. 

Do you agree or disagree with these reflections? What reflections would you add?

*Chapell, Bryan (2005-03-01). Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (Kindle Location 4415). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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