Friday, August 10, 2012

A Good Sermon: 3 tests ...

About a year ago, one Sunday, I was invited to preach at our church and as is my habit, chose the gospel reading from the lectionary schedule as the sermon text - which providentially happened to be Matt 20.1-16.  This is the parable of the vineyard owner... not the easiest parable to interpret. I struggled through it and think that my study was rewarded, and the sermon was a blessing.  But shortly afterward, I found the following three-fold encomium of Lewis's [and Wright's] work here and was struck by how well it sums up my goals for a sermon:

"... the combination of logic, wit, and imagination."

Now I'm not sure that I can claim to have yet successfully combined these three in any single sermon ... but it sure is something to shoot for.  Here are two others who weigh in.

T David Gordon when he spoke in DC a few years ago said that his criterion for a good sermon was whether the average listener could answer these 3 questions on the drive home after service:

What was the sermon text?
What was the main point of the sermon?
What was the main application of the sermon?

Finally, my own mentor, Gregg Strawbridge, has boiled it all down to these 3, and most often these are the three I [feebly] attempt to keep in my thinking throughout the week:

Does it have insight? [some new information, a fresh angle or take on an old truth]
Does it have structure? [logical, followable outline], 
Does it have application? [how does this truth affect my life today?].

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