Saturday, August 13, 2016

How to give a bad sermon in four easy steps

Like anyone involved in church for a few decades, I've heard plenty of sermons. Lots and lots. 

A few magnificent.
Some good. 
Some bad.
A few miserable.

Additionally, as someone who has worked in churches for a decade, I've given plenty of sermons/talks.
Lots and lots.

A few magnificent.
Some good.
Some bad.
A few miserable.

In truth, the vast majority of what I've heard and delivered were fairly forgettable. They weren't awful, or without gospel truth, just not particularly memorable.

And I've certainly delivered some sermons I've been particularly disappointed by.

When it comes to preaching a bad sermon, the recipe has four primary ingredients.

Ingredient 1: Misuse the text.

One sermon I recall, which ingloriously stands out, I heard at a Hillsong convention and somehow revolved around the story of the raven being released from Noah's ark and how it couldn't find anywhere to land.

It. Was. A. Confused. Mess.

The speaker, who I won't name, totally misused the passage and made assumptions which just aren't clear from the scriptures.

If you say things from the pulpit that the text doesn't mean nor never intended, then you've committed a serious preaching sin.

Ingredient 2: Miss nailing the ending.

There are plenty of ways to conclude a sermon.

Ask questions.
Give useful life-application of your point.
Provide reflective silence.

Drifting off is definitely not the way to close...

Ingredient 3: Miss-execution of delivery.

This point isn't the be-all-and-end-all, but a decent sermon, delivered dryly is a trial.

If people stop listening because you're not mentally, vocally or physically engaging, then it doesn't really matter how choc-full-of-quality-points your sermon is, you might as well be delivering it to an empty room.

Ingredient 4: Miss-read the audience.

Every audience is different and if you don't tailor your message to their energy levels, age, experience and spiritual development, then you're setting them (and you) up for a bad sermon.

Your audience, if nothing else, should influence the nature of your illustrations/stories and the length that you speak.

A speaker who doesn't consider his/her listeners, is displaying extreme selfishness since they think that their individual preferences trump the needs of everyone who is listening.

So... twist the text... with an unsatisfying conclusion... in a boring manner... with no regard to those listening... and I guarantee, it will result in a sermon that's truly awful.

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