There are certain elements that must be included in every single sermon you ever preach. They are non-negotiable.
To put it another way, every sermon you preach has three key components. Understanding them and helping them to play well together is half the battle of preaching effectively.
The God Component
The “God component” is what sets preaching apart from other kinds of public speaking.
We are God’s spokespeople. We preach His word, not ours.
And as you consider the role of God in the sermon, you have to ask yourself some pretty pertinent questions:
- Have I recognized that God is the ultimate authority on the meaning of His word?
- Have I consulted with the Author of the word in prayer?
- Have I trusted the results of my preaching to the Spirit who moves among his people?
- Have I made Jesus the central character of the sermon?
The Communicator Component
The component has to do with you, the preacher.
You need to ask certain important questions about your own role in the preaching experience:
- Have I lived out and embodied the word in my life? That is to say, have I been the incarnation of the message I hope to convey on Sunday morning?
- Can I honestly say I’ve spent adequate time in preparation, so that my mind, heart, and soul are all immersed in the text and it’s meaning?
- Am I humbled by the weight of the responsibility of being God’s spokesperson to people whose lives and eternities hang in the balance?
- Have I been the same person at home and in my private life and in my various relationships that I plan on being in the pulpit when I am teaching on Sunday?
- Am I prayed up?
- Am I fired up?
The Audience Component
The final component has to do with the people to whom you are preaching.
Your audience matters.
It sounds good, and makes a great soapbox issue to proclaim that preaching ought to be God-centered not man-centered.
The fact is, Jesus himself would not be welcomed or accepted by some today in the world of preaching because he wouldn’t be considered scriptural enough. Jesus preached to the needs and the hearts of human beings with problems.
There are plenty of arguments around the subject of whether or not we should preach to the felt needs of society. The problem with these arguments is often that there is a failure to understand that felt needs are real needs that are felt.
And Jesus spoke to those needs.
Your audience matters so much to the heart of God, that He sent His only son Jesus to die on the cross for their redemption. You need to consider their needs if you hope to please the Author of the word.
His intention for his message is that it convinces, converts, and changes the lives of its hearers.
You need to be asking some personal questions about your audience as you are preparing the message:
- Have I spent time with people, getting to know their hurts, habits, and hang-ups? Do I know what it is like to be human, to err, and to have messed up before a holy God?
- Every text has not only a primary principle, but an implication for the everyday lives of human beings. Have I dug into the text deep enough, not only to discover what it says about God, but also it’s practical implications for the lives of people?
- Have I prepared not only an explanation of the meaning of the text, but also at least one, if not several calls to action?
- Am I willing and ready to ask people to change their lives entirely on the basis of what I am going to say? And will I do this with the authority that God has granted to me, and the humility that is calling should create in me?
When all three of these components work in harmony and we’ve done all we can to answer the tough questions about our message, our hearts, and our people, we’re ready to see the Holy Spirit work to produce real life change!