22 Questions to Ask Every Time You Preach

Years ago I developed a list of twenty questions to evaluate a sermon during the preparation and practice phase (here is the original list). Today much of it remains a mental checklist (though more intuitive for me than mechanical), and one I have revised for the new realities of preaching and demands on preaching in this Third Millennium in which we now live and preach. So here are my current list of twenty-two questions:
 Do I grab the listener’s attention as soon as I start speaking?
 Does the talk start where people are (with their culture, needs, problems, issues, questions)?
 Does it avoid assuming any prior knowledge on the part of the listener?
 Am I teaching the listener something he or she didn’t already know?
 Am I communicating what God says, not my opinions?
 Have I offered an elementary (but not condescending) explanation of the text that will help orient even a Bible newbie?
 Have I avoided "church" lingo, jargon, inside jokes, and platitudes?
 Have I revealed something of myself in the talk without revealing anything inappropriate? (so much the better if it’s vulnerable, self-effacing, and/or winsome)
 Do I interact with my listeners in the talk (e.g., mentioning people’s names, asking for responses, etc.)?
 Have I included humor?
 Have I employed story, metaphor, or meaningful symbolism into the message?
 Am I being realistic instead of shallow? Will my listeners believe I understand what they're really going through?
 Have I given my audience something memorable to look at (besides text in a Bible or on a screen)?
 Have I given my audience something to touch, taste, smell, or do to drive home the main point of the message? (not everyone's learning style is sequential and verbal)
 Have I touched (not manipulated) my listener’s emotions?
 Is my talk focused enough (instead of rambling)?
 Have I played a part in meeting a felt need?
 Is the “solution” or response I propose realistic? Life-related? Biblical?
 Does the structure of my talk logically lead to the conclusion/application (or have I gone down any rabbit trails)?
 Have I left out anything important, crucial?
 Have I given clear application for both a seeker and a Christian that answers the question, "OK, what am I supposed to do with this information now/today/this week?”--or even (ideally) helped my listeners actually begin (now, in the sermon itself) to apply the message?
 Have I made reference to how my listener can find further help (e.g., prayer counselors, websites, resources, etc.)?
Now, not every sermon will necessarily hit all twenty-two. But this pretty well summarizes what I shoot for every time I preach. 

So what questions would you add or subtract? Or revise?

(Please feel free to share this post with others using the Twitter, Facebook, and other buttons below. You can also subscribe to this blog in your blog reader or enter your email address at top right to receive posts via email)

1 comment:

  1. I guess I forgot the most important one: Does it have three points that start with the same letter? (that's a joke, son)