What makes for good preaching?

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Puritan Board Freshman
Curious, how you would define good preaching? What are the essential ingredients?

I would say some of the essentials of good preaching are that it is God-centered, is primary aimed at His glory, always points to Jesus Christ, is faithful to the Biblical text and has practical application and response throughout.

What concerns me is that it seems more and more today the emphasis of what constitutes good preaching is being placed on style and technique. Not that most people are neglecting content but it seems that equal emphasis is placed on style/technique. Now does style/technique have a place in preaching? Absolutely! All who preach the Word should be seeking to improve in these areas where lacking. But preachers must make sure it is unction of the Holy Spirit that drives their style/technique. This is what separates a preacher from a mere performer. So please do not think I am advocating boring and unenthusiastic preaching. But I do not read anywhere in Scripture that the marks of good preaching is that the preacher is a dynamic speaker and can captivate an audience. Yet this is often seen to be a major factor of what makes a preacher good at preaching. I believe there is the constant danger for the preacher and the congregation putting too much stock in the presentation, so that it is the presentation rather than the Word of God that becomes the driving force of the sermon. Paul sure seemed to think this could be a danger in 1 Corinthians.
I think it is good for pastors to remind those in their congregation to analyze their criteria for what makes good preaching and see if it is subjective and based more on personal preference or is it based on Biblical standards and principles. I think also good for pastors to remember these things each week as they preach becasue very tempting to lose perspective.

I am sure I am preaching to the choir but even us in reformed circles are not immune to falling into these temptations either as listeners of preaching and/or as preachers doing the preaching.

For His Glory-

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
An answer from the Westminster Directory for the Public Worship of God:

But the servant of Christ, whatever his method be, is to perform his whole ministry:

1. Painfully, not doing the work of the Lord negligently.

2. Plainly, that the meanest may understand; delivering the truth not in the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect; abstaining also from an unprofitable use of unknown tongues, strange phrases, and cadences of sounds and words; sparingly citing sentences of ecclesiastical or other human writers, ancient or modern, be they never so elegant.

3. Faithfully, looking at the honour of Christ, the conversion, edification, and salvation of the people, not at his own gain or glory; keeping nothing back which may promote those holy ends, giving to every one his own portion, and bearing indifferent respect unto all, without neglecting the meanest, or sparing the greatest, in their sins.

4. Wisely, framing all his doctrines, exhortations, and especially his reproofs, in such a manner as may be most likely to prevail; shewing all due respect to each man's person and place, and not mixing his own passion or bitterness.

5. Gravely, as becometh the word of God; shunning all such gesture, voice, and expressions, as may occasion the corruptions of men to despise him and his ministry.

6. With loving affection, that the people may see all coming from his godly zeal, and hearty desire to do them good. And,

7. As taught of God, and persuaded in his own heart, that all that he teacheth is the truth of Christ; and walking before his flock, as an example to them in it; earnestly, both in private and publick, recommending his labours to the blessing of God, and watchfully looking to himself, and the flock whereof the Lord hath made him overseer: So shall the doctrine of truth be preserved uncorrupt, many souls converted and built up, and himself receive manifold comforts of his labours even in this life, and afterward the crown of glory laid up for him in the world to come.


Puritan Board Sophomore
A good sermon is a proclamation about God
It may be academic or not academic but should include:

- worship His way through the sermon
- draw truth from the Bible
- people listening should increase in their ability to study the Bible for themselves seeing how it was done in the sermon
- it should over time cover the themes and scriptures comprehensively
- it should lift affections toward God
- it should be part of the equiping of the saint, the church matures and increases in their ability to lead others, lead devotionals for family or friends
- the whole church teaches each other in some ways... which include music
- the preacher should be learning and walking with God in a way that his sermons are an overflow in part of his curernt walk
- it should be sensitive to the various ages and groups in the church and speak to all

I like when the Pastor can come pack after a song for a short 'challenge' summary
A sunday school lesson should include as many of the above as possible...


Puritan Board Senior
Preach the text (not from it) letting it master you and not you master it, as Joel Beeke says.
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