2. The sermon is long-winded
Just like in the movies and on TV, sermons that are too long-winded don’t work. If a TV show or a movie is too long-winded people zap away or turn the movie off. In church people zap away by no longer paying attention to the story. Their attention slides out of focus. The most important cause of long-windedness is repetition.
When a preacher starts to repeat things when they already made their point and is not able to communicate new insights people not only start getting restless in their pews, but get annoyed as well because it becomes more and more difficult to pay attention.
Solution: Avoid repetition. Keep you talking points, just like you would do in a talk-show on TV, brief and to the point.
3. There is not enough depth
When people listen to a sermon they want to be edified, encouraged, and informed. When the sermon disappoints on these characteristics people tend to say that the sermon did not have enough depth.
It is often not the depth that is lacking but rather the ability to communicate what is written in the Bible in a manner that is in-depth and original. This has a lot to do with the fact that Christians have heard important truths such as ‘Jesus has died for your sins,’ ‘God wants to be prayed,’ and ‘Truly live for him alone!’ already more than a thousand times. These are very significant and deep truths, but you have to acquire the skill to communicate them as such, i.e. significant and deep.
Solution: Try to avoid cliches. Try to connect the theme of your sermon with your own life, the news, the world and culture we live in. This way you will be able to make the subject matter of your sermon relevant for your audience.
4. The story is simply incoherent
In your attempt to keep your hearer’s attention it is mandatory that the sermon is coherent. People want to know what the sermon is all about. They want to be able to follow the story as well as the thought-sequence of the preacher. When the preacher makes too many excursions in their sermon to side-issues, people will not be able to focus on the actual message of the preacher. This will result in disengagement. People often don’t understand or do not sufficiently understand what it is that the preacher is trying to say.
The realization that many sermons are not coherent, then, is one of the most important reasons why people are not able to remember on a given Monday morning the sermon they heard on the Sunday before. That is a serious problem because it gives people the feeling they didn’t get much out of the sermon.
Solution: Make sure you are able to capture in one sentence what your sermon is all about. This way you reduce the risk that your sermon is incoherent. Try to limit the excursions in your sermon. Repeat at the end of your sermon the most important points you have made.
5. The sermon is not practical enough
People want to know what they can do with the sermon. In other words: a sermon should not only be theological but also practical. What’s in it for me? For that reason people appreciate it when a Bible passage is not only expounded, but when it is made clear what it means for their daily lives and how these things can take shape today. How is one to practically live the exhortations of Jesus? What do you do if this fails?
Ultimately, the gospel is not a theoretical story about God and the world, but one that truly changes our lives and the world around us.
Solution: Give people three things that they can concretely do in order to make the sermon relevant for their lives.
6. There is not enough enthusiasm
Personally, I think it is a shame when the greatest and most beautiful news in the world, the Good News of Jesus Christ, is recounted in a monotonous style. It is precisely the gospel of Jesus Christ that needs to be brought with enthusiasm and undiminished energy. The argument is simple: you cannot tell the good news about Jesus in a boring way. That simply doesn’t work.
The way in which you say things is as important as what you say. People in the media understand this. That’s why they invite the same people for talk shows and commentary on the news. The media are interested in people who will talk with energy and enthusiasm. And because they do this so well they tend to speak their minds as well.
Solution: When you preach you need to do this with an attitude that communicates: ‘I’ve got something to tell you guys and I’m ready to do this now!’ ‘Listen to what I discovered in the Bible!’ Tell you story with enthusiasm and don’t be afraid to make it zesty.
7. People are not full of the Holy Spirit
In what I wrote above I have been speaking primarily about the technical side of preaching. Honesty commands me to say that the knife cuts on both sides. Just like an artist a preacher needs to work and study very hard to become better at what they do. On the other hand they need to be inspired from above in order to say something that really matters and that has true value.
As Christians we believe that preaching is not just something for which you need a certain amount of talent and at which you can succeed by working hard. It is also something for which you need the power of God. To put it in another way: even the talent of speaking is ultimately something that comes from God and not from yourself.
God is able to lend power to someone’s words so that those words have a hundred times more impact that would otherwise be possible. That’s why Jesus spoke like nobody else on earth. He was full of the Holy Spirit.
Solution: Always long to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Pray for this, fill yourself with Him. Only then will you speak like Jesus with power, authority, wisdom, and love. Only then will you speak the right words at the right moment en will people not just hear you but God. Only then will lives change for real to the edification of God’s Kingdom.
I hope this article will be of help to you. I wrote it to help you gain insight