things i wonder

warning: unfiltered, raw, unprocessed thoughts of a 26-year-old preaching student ahead


Things I Wonder…
How do you determine if a sermon was successful? My gut says life change. 
How do you measure that? One way is stories of transformation. Many times I’ll hear those right after a worship service. Those moments are amazing. I hope I never get used to the fact that God speaks to people through us. What a responsibility. 
Here’s where I’m challenging myself: is the sermon still successful when you don’t hear any of those stories? (Granted, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t life change just because you didn’t hear about it) But if preachers are used to hearing those stories, don’t those moments become a standard for whether you’re successful?
I’m hoping this is simply a growth and maturing issue as a student becomes a pastor. Or maybe this is something preachers struggle with on a normal basis?
Is our ego & confidence measured by the stories of life change we hear? 
Is it the sign of a healthy mature preacher to prepare & share a message and their confidence rest in the fact they said everything God led them to say? That’s all they should need, right? Where do people’s stories fall in this?
got any answers? 🙂

5 comments

  1. Good questions. My two cents… I think we have to be at peace with sharing the word God has put on our hearts, then trusting the Spirit to move. (whether we get to hear stories of transformation or not.) Sometimes the Spirit works through our words, sometimes in spite of our words, but we trust that the Spirit is always at work.

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  2. If you are obedient to God in preparing the message, then the message is successful. We have to remember the huge role that the Holy Spirit plays in the transformation and the role of the individual’s freedom.When you preach an obedient, spot-on sermon straight from the LORD, those in the congregation have the opportunity to accept or reject the Word. Look at the OT prophets – they were successful, but they often didn’t see the transformation they sought.When we judge our sermons by the transformation they bring, week in and week out, we risk confusing ourselves with the Holy Spirit… not a good place to be!I guess what I’m saying is that a successful sermon is one in which you are obedient.

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  3. Thanks! I appreciate your perspective. That’s exactly my fear as a new preacher – that we easily confuse our actions and the Holy Spirit. It’s a task to be very mindful of as we continue to develop as preachers.

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  4. “But if preachers are used to hearing those stories, don’t those moments become a standard for whether you’re successful?”Ah, good statement. When we look for the “usual words” or “usual responses” in order to determine what was a “successful message.”And who do we hear from? Who makes eye contact with us after the service, after months or years of no eye contact? Who brings up an idea, a word that you used, when they don’t normally speak to you?

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