Wally's comments on life, on music, on pianos, on church, on the Bible, on Palm Beach County, politics, and whatever else pops into his head.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Have you ever thought about what makes for an interesting sermon, or for a boring sermon? I have sat through hundreds of sermons in my 60 years of life. Some were quite interesting, challenging, and even entertaining. Others, while evident that the preacher had done some preparation, didn't seem to do anything for me, or for anyone else in the congregation either, even though they might have seemed to be interested and acted polite by not sleeping, or by trying to take notes.

When my first wife taught public speaking at a bible institute, one of the things she tried to teach her students was the importance of using a pertinent illustration to make the point interesting and memorable. I'll deal with this point later.

Of course there are many other factors which affect the quality of a sermon. One is the clarity of the speaker's voice - can he be heard and understood? I attended a church for several years where the pastor had interesting content in his sermons. They always seemed timely and definitely biblically based. I usually left feeling edified spiritually. He would get emotional sometimes and raised his voice volume when he made a point. He would also use interesting illustrations. However, he had sort of a slurred, mushy speech. I'm sure he sounded fine to people from his section of his country, but to others it must have been somewhat bothersome. At least it was to me.

Another pastor I know evidently spends much time preparing his sermons to have good content. What he does is prepare a lesson so long and detailed that, even though it would be great as a chapter in a book, it's not very good as a sermon. There are too many things to remember and not any real point to try to put into practice the following week. The sermon, since it so long and complicated, is mostly read and seldom has any interesting illustrations to make it come alive.

Another pastor I hear occasionally at a very large church has very interesting and memorable sermons. He flashes outline points on the screen and encourages us to jot down key points on our sermon notes page. Some other preachers I have seen use similar formats, but sometimes have the sermon so simplified that it is almost an insult to the listener's intelligence. He, of course, has to know his intended audience and prepare accordingly. I was just a visitor.

Well, back to my original point. A few years ago I came up with a chart which I called THE HIERARCHY OF ILLUSTRATIONS. It can be a helpful tool in preparing a sermon or talk of any kind. There is a link to it on the right side under the LINKS heading.


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