Have you ever heard a sermon that was presented using a chart that had been drawn or painted by hand on a bed sheet or canvas? Many of them were amazing and left a favorable impression on their hearers. A bit later, the use of overhead transparencies came along. And now? In many places, it is popular to preach sermons accompanied by Power Point slides.
Such sheets, canvases, transparencies, and slides have the potential to be helpful tools, but since they all may be “outdated” even in our lifetime, I strongly urge that we not uphold any tool or device as “the key to preaching.” The kind of preaching that we need in our generation is the kind of preaching that is needed in every generation. What kind of preaching do we need? The correct answers will never change. Here are ten answers, and the order below is not significant.
Bible preaching – If we miss this one, then we have missed it all! God’s charge is, “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). The context of that statement makes it clear that “the word” is God’s word. How we need lessons that are filled with a “Thus says the Lord!” How we need lessons that open the Bible, examine the Bible, and cause those present to say, “He really preached the Bible today.” While some seem intent on filling their “sermons” with stories and jokes and reducing the amount of Bible they employ, God’s church and the world still need to hear what He says!
Preaching that carries out the other instructions of 2 Timothy 4:2 – Preaching the word includes, “Convince, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and teaching.” Just as Jeremiah was charged to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build, and plant (Jeremiah 1:10), so God’s preacher today needs to present lessons that go to the heart and cause hearers to see where they stand with the Lord, imploring them to make necessary corrections and encouraging them to do what is in the best interest of their soul.
Compassionate/loving preaching – Jesus preached from a heart that had compassion for those who heard Him (Mark 6:34). We need that kind of preaching today, presenting lessons that leave no doubt that the ones presenting them love the souls of those to whom they are speaking (Mark 10:21).
Passionate preaching – Do not confuse “compassion” with “passion.” One can have one without the other. We need gospel preachers who are enthusiastic in proclaiming the gospel, who have God’s word in their hearts like a burning fire (Jeremiah 20:9). Like Apollos, being “fervent in spirit” should characterize the way our lessons are presented (Acts 18:25). Each presenter of God’s word has his own personality, but those who hear sermons need to feel the enthusiasm of the speaker. If he is not excited about telling it, then he should not expect folks to be excited about hearing it.
Preaching that points to the Savior – Man’s greatest problem is sin, meaning that man’s greatest need is salvation from that sin. The only way to be saved is through Jesus, the “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Preaching that does not keep the Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) at the forefront, does not stack up to the preaching of the first-century church (Acts 3:12-26; 8:35; 17:2,3; 18:28).
Preaching that explains how to walk with the Lord – How much are we really helping people who hear our lessons if we do not get down to it and show them what they, on an individual basis, must do in order to be in the right relationship with God? That means we need to give the Bible answer to “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30-33; 2:36-41). It also means we need to preach to let Christians know how to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7) in order to remain saved.
Preaching that points out the uniqueness of God’s people – Under the new covenant, God’s people, that is, His children, are in the Christ (1 Peter 2:9,10; Galatians 3:26-28). They comprise the “one body” (Ephesians 4:4). Along with that privilege comes the responsibility for each follower of Jesus to come out from the darkness of the world and live a holy, separated life (2 Corinthians 6:17). The church and the world need to hear that!
Preaching that comes from a heart that longs to please the Lord, not people – If someone hears a sermon and it makes him/her happy, that is fine. A preacher’s ultimate goal, though, is to present a sermon whose content and delivery please God. Brothers who preach need to have the mindset of the apostle Paul: “. . . entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
Practical preaching – This is preaching that reaches home with the listeners, that causes them to see how to use God’s message in their own lives (Acts 3:19; 7:51-53; 1 Timothy 4:11,12).
Clear preaching – It is fruitless and frustrating for hearers when they hear a sermon and are unsure exactly what is said or what the point is. The preaching done by Jesus and His disciples was plain, letting the hearers know in no uncertain terms what was what. Look at how Jesus spoke about worry, Paul spoke about the God of heaven, and Peter spoke of salvation (Matthew 6:25-34; Acts 17:22- 31; 2:36-28).
— Roger D. Campbell