That sermon was great. It was amazing. We hear this all the time from so many people every Sunday.
Oh wow, the sermon today was great.
For a sermon to be great it has to be effective and for it to be effective change has to happen and for change to happen Jesus has to be involved and the Spirit has to move.
How many great sermons from great preachers is it going to take before something changes in your life?
Your circumstances haven’t changed. But the message was great.
Your view of your circumstances hasn’t changed. But the message was great.
You know God wants you to do something and wants something different for you and your life, but you still struggle and question everything. But the message was great.
Let’s move away from the personal and move to a more macro view of things…
There are numerous preachers and pastors that are extremely gifted orators. They can weave humor, pop culture references and pragmatism with scripture and they do so with a skill that rivals professional speakers and actors.
These preachers and pastors are leading small, medium, large, and mega churches. Because of technology, their reach is almost unlimited. No longer bound by the confines of a building, their words and teachings can travel not only out of their town, but even out of their state and country!
Every week they deliver messages that reach audiences small and large and every week countless people will comment to each other, either in person or on social media, that the message that they heard was great.
And yet the church universal has problems. Church attendance is on the decline. The percentage of people who identify as Christians is on the decline. Non-believers have an extremely negative view of churches and Christians. Ask people what word comes to mind when they think of Christians and the words hypocritical and judgmental pop up the most often.
But the sermon was great.
Again, unless these ‘great sermons’ are generating changes in our lives, our circumstances and the way we view our circumstances, and the way we treat those around us, they really can’t be that great.
Part of the problem is that today’s preachers, pastors, and teachers – gifted as they may be in delivering smooth, polished sermons that hit the right tones and tickle the right ears – are missing something.
The Apostle Paul gives a clue as to what is missing in the sermons and in our lives and what is needed in order to bring about the change that should result when one preaches and when one hears a truly great message.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
A message that is delivered smoothly with funny anecdotes is not the definition of a great sermon. A great sermon is one that has the Spirit behind it.
If you walk away marveling at a message or are in awe of a speaker/teacher/preacher your focus is on the wrong thing and the speaker has done a poor job of allowing God’s Spirit to work.
We should walk away in awe of God. Preachers are to shine the light on God and His Son and His Spirit. That is what changes people. Not “great” messages.