Good Preaching?

Does preaching have anything to do with your decision?

There are many opinions as to what constitutes “good” preaching. Some prefer a preacher who spits and hollers, bangs the pulpit, and makes that little “huh” sound between every amplified phrase. Others prefer the professor/preacher who reads from a manuscript in a mono-tone, non-offensive, Winnie the Pooh-like voice. Either way, what we are talking about is delivery, not substance.

Does delivery matter?

When Paul told Timothy to pay close attention to his doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16) and to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2), content was the issue. However, if a sermon is poorly delivered, the efforts of the preacher could be nullified. If the hearer is distracted, bored, offended, lulled to sleep, or has his ear drums wounded, what is the point?

In my opinion, good preaching is preaching that contains solid, biblical content, but also keeps the audience engaged. One should never discount the importance of the power of the Spirit working through the weakness of men (1 Cor. 2:4; 2 Cor. 12:9). But, as ambassadors of the King (2 Cor. 5:20) who have been charged by our Sovereign to “compel” (persuade)  hungry souls to come to His table (Luke 14:23), shouldn’t how we say what we say be important?

It is reported that Abraham Lincoln preferred listening to preachers who looked like they were swatting at a swarm of bees. In a similar vein, I think it was Charles Wesley who said that a preacher should “put some fire in his sermon, or put his sermon in the fire.”

On the other hand, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is said to have read his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” with a steady, monotone voice, as the audience screamed in terror at the thought of falling into hell. So, delivery shouldn’t matter?

It would make sense that those entrusted with delivering sermons should do so in a manner befitting the “greatest story ever told,” but does delivery make a difference? After all, some of the greatest public speakers of all time were tyrants (Adolph Hitler). Should delivery be an issue, or should we simply focus on truth?

What about you?

bibleWhat type of preaching style do you prefer? Has a particular style of sermon delivery ever caused you to tune out to what was being said?

Below is an example of me preaching. This sermon was delivered several years ago on a Sunday evening at Riverside Baptist (in the gym, while our auditorium was being remodeled). It was part of a series I did on the book of Ephesians and focused on the blessing of the Holy Spirit and the simple two word phrase, “but God.”

I’m interested in your feedback.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Good Preaching?

  1. soulsista4christ

    Great post with an even greater question. I was told when I was younger that God is always speaking but we aren’t always listening. Being a proud African American woman a typical day at church I was use to was the hooping and the hollering etc. Traditional yes. The problem is like you said what’s the point of hooping if there isn’t much substance? Sure that type of preaching style can be very enjoyable and connects with emotions but if it doesn’t prompt a deeper intense relationship with God its just a smokescreen. I have learned to take the attention off of the preacher and his style and ask God to show me through the Holy Spirit what he is trying tell me specifically I make it person between me and God. Pastors and preachers are unique vessels chosen to speak God’s Word like their lives depends on it. And while they have to the tedious task of the whole content vs delivery ratio I pray above all they are obedient to God letting the Holy Spirit be their guide. In Jesus Name

  2. Personally, I prefer a sermon delivered with at least a little fire or some personality and passion. But the most important thing would be the substance … and the Holy Spirit. He can make even a dry sermon come to life for those who need the message.

  3. Pingback: Good Preaching? — The Recovering Legalist | Talmidimblogging

  4. I like good old fashioned expository preaching…and good preaching should always include the message of repentance, forgiveness, and grace.

    Other than that, stylistically I like organized points so I can take notes in order to fact check the preacher LOL.

    • So so good! Love your “spit and fire”!! Really appreciate how you teach and explain the scriptures section by section. Praise God for dunamis, and for “but God”! Bob has done some lay preaching and is a professor at our local college, so public speaking is his thing. I know he packs a lot into a half hour sermon like you do, and I like that. It’s hard when preachers just repeat themselves over and over, windmilling without moving through an organized thought. From a congregant viewpoint, things preacher should never say: “Well, I’m not sure what God wants me to talk about this morning so we’ll see where the Spirit leads…” (read: I didn’t spend enough time listening this week.) “I’m about to close…” (read: Let me talk about 15 minutes more…) “Do y’all mind if I keep going” (like anyone’s going to say yes???) On a more positive note, stories engage people, humor makes us more permeable to information, and BTW, I’m so glad God created the southern Tennessee accent! (What was the hymn you used in this sermon?)

  5. A very good question, and I think you answered it very well. Like you said, what’s the point in the fire and passion when you don’t have substance? I also like how you presented the other side of the spectrum– the importance of how the message is presented. I’ve seen several pastors that preach good, sound, and biblical doctrine, but they lack the passion. I feel like the substance is important (the most important), but there also needs to be some sense of passion and enthusiasm (and that doesn’t necessarily mean fire and brimstone type of preaching). Loved the post!

  6. Good question, and good responses all.

    If you (A hypothetical preacher) don’t seem to care about what you’re preaching to me, how am I supposed to care?
    Ideally, I’ll bring my own care and interest to the table–and I’d like to think this is what I do when I’m not “moved” by someone’s preaching. But it helps when I don’t have to because you’re doing a good job of engaging the audience.
    I see this as similar to worship music. Whatever style a church uses, I’d like to have good theological content baked into that part of the service, and I’d like it to convey an obvious sense of excitement, or reverence, or stirring emotion. I can stand there and sing in a style I don’t prefer, or even find my own time of worship when the music doesn’t hit the mark for my tastes. But I’d much rather be motivated and drawn to worship, not force my way past obvious distractions or hindrances to it.

    Content / substance > fire / passion. But it’d be nice to have both.

  7. Well i guess it’s the Pentecostal in me that likes it loud and moving! here is what I’ve heard (in Pentecost) preaching you yell and teaching you tell. lol !! great blogg. I enjoyed your thought and question.

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