“That was such a good sermon” is the flattering words every preacher wants to hear as the congregation exists the building. And often such words are said out of true personal gratitude for the work of the preacher as a vessel in God’s hand that day.
But, more objectively, what makes a good sermon?
A good sermon contains two very important components.
First, is obviously a clear explanation of the Word of God.
They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:8)
Second is a plea for change.
This plea for change cannot happen without the clear explanation of the Word of God, for else it will not be the right kind of change. But without this second component, a sermon will be no more than an exegetical commentary.
Just look at the verse the describes the end of the day of preaching mentioned in the verse above:
And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:12)
The people changed their attitudes and actions because of what they learned.
A pastor has not preached well if he has not explained Scripture clearly; and a pastor has not preached well until he has instilled in you the need for change.
What does that mean for you, who listen rather than preach, during the sermon time of our worship services?
First, expect to learn God’s Word better, and then, very importantly, expect to change. If you leave a sermon with nothing learned and nothing changed, you missed the point. Then even the most sincere of “Thank you for a great sermon, pastor” at the end of the service is utterly meaningless.
To put these two components in terms of cautionary warnings, 1) beware of learning without changing, for that is no learning, and 2) beware of changing without a basis of truth, for that would be the wrong change.
A good sermon is a sermon where Biblical Truth is presented so as to change lives.
Psalm 119:33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.