Great Sermons are a Bother

post date: March 6, 2011


In one of his books Warren Wiersbe quotes a famous preacher who said, “Great sermons are a bother.” He meant something like this. In the ministry we’re tempted to try and solve our problems by preaching one “great” sermon. Of course no one knows exactly what a “great” sermon is. I suppose in this context it means a sermon that is markedly better than our usual efforts.

There is another way to put it. One of my seminary professors told us, “Gentlemen, never overestimate the value of one great sermon. Never underestimate the value of many good sermons.»

He then told a story from one of his early pastorates, a rural church filled mostly with farmers. Every Sunday folks would faithfully come to listen to him preach. Week after week he tried to impress them with his sermonic skill. One Sunday he finally put it all together and preached the greatest sermon he had ever preached. It was a masterpiece. When the service was over, he went to the back to greet the farmers as they left the building. He was dismayed to realize that even before they got to their cars, they had forgotten the sermon and were talking about the price of wheat.

So it goes.

The best sermons are quickly forgotten. And thank goodness, so are our less-impressive efforts. It’s probably a blessing that most people talk about the weather or what’s for lunch as they drive home from church.

Let us take to heart the advice that “great sermons” are a bother. Do your best to give the people good food from the Word every Sunday. Well-fed sheep may not talk about the message, but they’ll come back next Sunday glad to hear you again. 

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Ray Pritchard
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