Every Monday (or even Sunday afternoon), most of us who preach do some simple evaluation of our message. That’s important, as the task of preaching the Word of God is a weighty one indeed. Here are some questions I ask:
- Did I step into the pulpit “prayed up” and prepared? I realize we’re never fully ready to preach, but we do know when we’re preaching just because it’s Sunday—and we do it whether or not we’re really prepared.
- Did I genuinely teach the Bible, or did I use the Bible as a launching pad to teach my own thoughts? Even the best expositors need to ask this question. It’s easy for any of us to inadvertently leave the text behind if we’re not intentional in our proclamation.
- Would a non-believer present yesterday have heard the clear gospel and been challenged to follow Christ?Many of us, I think, forget about this question because we assume we have few non-believers (as far as we know) attending our services.
- Did I state the central teaching of the text clearly and often enough that my congregation could repeat it today? If most folks can give only a general description without specificity—or not state the point at all—we probably weren’t clear enough. Cloudiness in our preaching leads to little life transformation in our congregation.
- Did the congregants hear more about Jesus or more about me? I’m not one who argues against using personal illustrations (in fact, see this post about this topic), but I do know we preachers shouldn’t be the focal point of the sermon. Jesus must be.
- Did my illustrations genuinely “let light in” on the truth of the Word, or were they just good stories? I fear we sometimes build a sermon point around an illustration we like rather than use the illustration to explain the Word.
- If I asked my congregation what practical, intentional changes they will make in their lives this week because of the sermon, what would they say? If they don’t have an answer—or, if their answer is so generic they could have answered the same about any sermon—either they weren’t listening well or we didn’t do application well. I suspect it’s often a bit of both.
- Did the listeners quickly tune in as I started the sermon? We have only a few minutes (if not seconds) to grab the attention of our listeners, so we must use that time well. Watch the eye contact and the body language of your congregation during the introduction, and you’ll have a good impression of their attentiveness.
- Am I okay with the length of the sermon? I hear more complaints about sermons that are too long than about those too short. I’m not in favor of sermonettes, but I do want us to evaluate if we ever just fill (or over-fill) the prescribed time for the sermon.
- Did I “land the plane” well and send the people out to obey the Lord? Too many preachers circle the airport so many times their hearers ultimately lose their focus and discontinue listening at a pivotal point in the sermon.
- Am I even more amazed today that I get to proclaim the Word of God than I was on Saturday? If not, we may be taking for granted the privilege and the calling we have. Every time we preach ought to humble us.
What questions would you add?
You have written about this yourself, I believe. When we preach, we are also preaching to ourselves. So I would add these questions. Did this sermon touch my heart? Will it make a difference in my life? In what way? Will it have a lasting impact? If you cannot answer these questions in the affirmation and explain how the sermon will make a difference in your life, do not be surprised if the sermon has negligible effect on your congregation.
This is a great list that helps keep us honest and humble. The longer i preach (20 years this year in the pastorate plus four more before becoming a pastor) I am humbled by the fact that I get to preach His Word in His church. No. 11 certainly resonates with me and should with every pastor.
Also no. 3 is so important with clarity. I am not sure who said it but it is true – what is a mist in the pulpit becomes a fog in the pew.
Thank you for this list.
though provoking and fair evaluation. Thank you. In the life of “Hybrid church”, we have to face the reality and challenge that a portion of our audience/congregation is online. I would add something along the lines of, “Did I connect with the online audience in a way that they could feel involved and not just observe?”