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Published:  2015-01-22 Views:  996
Author:  karelnel
Published in:  Religion/Geloof
How To Measure A Sermon ?

How to measure a sermon?

One often hear people saying “That was a good sermon!”. Sometimes people will also reluctantly say that a sermon was not so good. How can one say whether a sermon was good or bad? Mostly people’s judgement is totally subjective and they have hardly thought about why they hold a specific opinion. May one evaluate a sermon? If one may – how can it be done respectfully, responsibility and fairly? The paragraphs below address ten simple points, based on principles of good public speaking and the essential message of the Bible that can serve as objective guidelines for evaluating a sermon.

  1. Theme/Title: For an audience to immediately start grasping what a preacher is saying it is important for them to know WHAT he is going to talk about. Preferably the title should be relevant to the audience.

  2. Use of Scripture: Within the context of the post-reformation churches the Bible is considered to be the final source of authority. A sermon should therefore be derived from Scripture or based on Scripture. Scripture should be correctly used in context and Scripture should be used to reinforce Scripture by using supporting texts.

  3. Introduction: A good introduction captures people’s attention and lead them from their different worlds to the essence of the message that is to be delivered. Preferably it should be relevant to the message that will follow – e.g. a short story.

  4. Structure of the content: There are no hard-and-fast-rules, but a well-structured content aids people’s comprehension and retention of the message. It is helpful to have 2 or 3 clear points and address them in a clear and concise manner, without deviating too much to side-topics.

  5. Use of gestures/aids/props: Communication becomes more effective with the use of multi-media, facial expressions, hand and body movements, body language etc. since it then makes a bigger impact on the senses of the audience. We all know that the non-verbal part of communication is sometimes much more important than the verbal part.

  6. Conclusion/ practicality: There must be a concise summary and conclusion to the message otherwise people will only have a vague concept of many things. The message must be concluded in such a way that people will find it easy to know how to respond to the message. If a message has no practical implication its usefulness can be little more than entertaining or amusement.

  7. Centrality of Christ: Since the focal message of the Bible is Christ and His atoning work, no message should be unrelated to this vital theme.

  8. Spirit of love: The minister of God’s word is chosen to be a servant that must deliver God’s message to His people. It is therefore not appropriate for a minister of the Word to have an attitude of judgement or one of superiority over the flock. These traits, if present, are easily discerned by the audience and it hinders the proper communication of God’s message. If he does not love God’s people he is unqualified to preach to them. If he has forgotten that he is himself a frail human vessel, his message may be tainted by arrogance.

  9. Conduct/ Posture: Things public speakers do and the way they dress may distract from the impact of the message. Mannerisms or excessive walking about or hanging on the lectern/pulpit do hinder effective communication.

  10. Impact: If one evaluates a sermon, it is also prudent to observe the impact on other members of the audience – how do they receive the message? A sermon should definitely not be too long (max 45 minutes) due to limitations in people’s general span-of-attention.

One can easily use the points above to compile a simple checklist that can be conveniently used. Obviously all the  points above may not be of equal importance ( e.g. the content part is more important than the introduction part) – one can therefore allocate different weights to them to get a more balanced evaluation

There is a truism stating: “To measure is to know”. Hopefully the use of a measuring instrument as the one described above can serve as a basis not only for knowing, but also for improvement.

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KPJ Nel

2015-01-22


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