6 Words to Move Past ‘Good’ Sermons
By: Northern Seminary
People use the adjective “good” to describe many things.
A good cup of coffee.
A good game.
A good day for a run.
People also often use the adjective “good” to describe sermons; preachers themselves often use it to describe their own preaching. Yet such a description is far too simplistic to describe the work that we as preachers are trying to accomplish.
When I started preaching, I struggled when people would tell me that they “liked” my sermon or that it was a “good” sermon. I didn’t know what the title “good” meant, and I didn’t know what was “good” about the sermon. Was it the delivery? My main impact? The connection to the worship service?
One day, as I explained my frustration to my friend Elissa Metropoulos, she offered me a simple solution. It was so simple, I was shocked that I hadn’t thought of it before. She told me to simply ask them what they thought was good! As a talented and accomplished musician, Elissa is often complimented on her piano performances and on her worship leading. People would always tell her that she played beautifully or that she did a “good” job. As a worship leader, though, she didn’t want a performance; she wanted to usher people into the presence of God. She wanted to know if that goal was being accomplished, so she simply asked.
That conversation stuck with me, and ever since that day, I always try to ask a follow-up question when people tell me that they liked my sermon. My follow-up question is simple, and it is only six words: “What did you like about it?”
This question helps me move past the conditioned labels of a “good” or “bad” sermon and move towards more concrete feedback. Oftentimes, I am amazed at what resonated with people and at what words had extra meaning for them. I am in awe of the work that God does in people’s lives through the message He gives me to communicate.
Most importantly for me, though, is that this question helps me to discover points of connection and transformation. Many times, these six words have led to hour-long conversations. People invite me into their lives as they share stories of God’s power, healing, transformation, and love. It is these moments, when the stories are shared and God’s work is revealed, that I am most honored to be a new kind of preacher.