I Love Preachers…But…

12060011 I love Preachers. Always will. But…

Today, I sat through an amazing presentation by Tim Woodruff on preaching at the NACC. It really was tremendous. In it, Tim talked about the importance of quality preaching.

Then, during the Q & A, a Brother who I'm sure loves the Lord…said,

"Tell me if you think I'm wrong. I believe that 80% of church members can't tell the difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon. That's been my rationale (i.e, for not spending much time in prep)"


Let alone that even if he was right–that still doesn't excuse poor sermon preparation. Do you think he's right about the percentage? I don't. If anyone really can't tell the difference, the number can't be high…no more than 5%. What do you think? Is he right? Am I wrong? What percentage would you say can't tell the difference?

Please tell me why you think they can't tell the difference…and why you think they can?

In general, I think preachers are more guilty of preaching beneath the church, not over it's head.

There, the pot is officially stirred 🙂

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “I Love Preachers…But…

  1. Depends on how this fella defines good preaching. Is good preaching entertaining? Is it deeply rooted in the Gospel? Is it challenging? Is it encouraging? Does it move people into mission?
    I think good preaching does all of these things. But I also think that a large number of people would define a good sermon by its entertainment and encouragement value? Challenging, rooted in the Gospel, and moving us into mission make us uncomfortable.
    Regardless, keep studying. Keep struggling with the text. Keep preaching the Word. Your congregation will be transformed by the Word of God if you are faithful in presenting it to them.

  2. Well, how would you define a good sermon vs a bad one? I don’t think there is an accepted rating system outside of the preacher circle. Is it good because its a textual criticism, or because it tugs the heart strings?
    I think judging a sermon can be pretty subjective, though its easy to say “wow that wasn’t a sermon so much as a stand up routine”. I think people do have the ability to grasp when there is some kind of substance there. But then how would you further quantify good, is there like a versus to opinion ratio, marks for technical excellence, using fonts in your power point slide that are not just default with Windows (haha); it can go on and on I think.
    It is not an excuse for lack of preparation though, that almost always shows. That sounds like someone (the person you quoted) who is getting a paycheck, without caring much about what he says.
    How would you rate a lesson? Is it based on delivery alone? How many people come forward? I know I appreciate the effort you put in every Sunday, and I also appreciate how serious you take your position, so even if you feel you are “off” one service, I never feel like you have not given it your best.

  3. I guess I just don’t understand……how can anyone not know the difference from a good/great sermon and a bad one? Surely most have heard many sermons in their life time and would know a good one when they heard
    it. They move you. All of your sermons were good/great ones for me because they moved me……..moved me towards God…..and I believe that takes lots of prep and hard work. Thank you!
    However, if you get five bad sermons in a row, you may not be listening when the sixth one is great.
    “In general, I think preachers are more guilty of preaching beneath the church, not over it’s head.” To me that is the core truth of preaching.

  4. You might want to consider a more precise definition of a “good sermon” versus a “bad sermon.” Depending on those definitions, as well as the situation in the local congregation, I can definitely see how a large minority (as much as 40%) can’t discern the difference in sermon quality from week to week. Plus, you have to consider those folks who criticize the sermon, no matter how good it is.
    Speaking of good sermons, I’m expecting to hear one this Sunday. I’m teaching class but then plan to drive up to NCCC for the 10:30 service. Looking forward to your A-game!

  5. Hmmm…..I think the percentage is higher than 5 for sure. Due to distracted listening and thought patterns mostly. I also think the level of education has something to do with it (talk about pot-stirring!). It also depends on what a church member has come to hear that morning. Sometimes people hear what they want to hear (or don’t hear what they don’t want to hear) ya know? I think his percentage guess is off—way too high. All that to say—I completely agree this should play no part whatsoever in the sermon prep—can’t believe that guy would even make that connection.