Each Sunday pastors stand at their pulpits, music stands, standing tables, or iPad stands and preach a sermon. The questions however is, "What is a good sermon?"
Now before we get into the three components that I believe are a must for a good sermon let me be clear that I am not here to attack your pastor. Or if you are a pastor, rest assured I'm not here to unduly critic you. My hope in this post is to point to the very things we see in Scripture that pastors are called to do.
In 2 Timothy 4:2 we are told three things that preaching should do. In addition to that Paul tells Timothy how these preaching tools should be applied.
"...preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."
The first thing Paul tells Timothy to do is to reprove. The word reprove in greek is elégxō. The word means to "convince with solid, compelling evidence". The idea behind the word is that Paul expects Timothy as he preaches to provide compelling evidence for the claims he makes in Christ.
Next, Timothy is to rebuke as he declares the word. This word in greek is epitimáō and most plainly means to admonish someone. Paul's teaching here is that Timothy, while preaching the word, is to warn and reprimand those in the congregation, warning them of the weight of their sin and calling them to repent.
Lastly, Timothy is instructed to exhort the congregation. In this exhorting (parakaléō) he is to strongly urge the congregation to follow after what the scriptures teach.
Paul tells his son in the faith that he is to do all of the above with "...complete patience and teaching." His words here are important as they communicate a teaching that comes from love for those within the congregation. Timothy is to teach these hard truths, call them out of sin, and urge them to follow Jesus while patiently teaching them.
These verses paint a picture that is ongoing. A life that isn't immediately fixed and perfect. A walk with others within the church that takes time and has it's highs and lows.
So when you hear a sermon, or when you preach a sermon, are these elements there? Is a compelling case made for Christ? Are sinners called to repentance? Is Jesus exalted high as the only one that can save?
These are key and though this will look differently for each church it's important to never forget just how needed these three elements are. As they are implemented, we must also be careful to remember Pauls words to Timothy, to do so "with complete patience and teaching."