After preaching at Eastside Baptist Church for over seventeen years, two sermons every week, several conferences a year, writing for the Times-News and many other speaking engagements, I can assure you that there are times that my speaking was more like a train wreck than a blessing.
I’ve learned that not all sermons are like an artist’s masterpiece. Sometimes a sermon will be a blessing to some and not so much to others. And then there are those “good for nothing” kind of sermons where it might have been better had I prayed the closing prayer when I got up to preach.
There are many other reasons why a sermon might be seen as a failure:
A sermon might be a failure because the hearer gives no heed to the preaching. In Acts 20:7-12 we read of a time when one of the great preachers of the Gospel was preaching and a young man fell asleep. The apostle Paul would be considered an inspired preacher, a master pulpiteer even, and yet not everyone would heed the words of his preaching.
A sermon might be a failure because people ridicule what is being preached. In Acts 17:31-34 we read of some people who literally “sneered” at the preaching of the gospel and the call for repentance.
A sermon might be considered a failure because people don’t consider themselves worthy of eternal life. In Acts 13:42-46, after Paul and Barnabas were preaching many were not impacted because of their misunderstanding of what makes them worthy. The righteousness of Jesus, the Christ, is the way one can be viewed as worthy of eternal life.
A sermon might be considered a failure because the hearer will not put up with sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2-3). Where there is hatred of sound, biblical teaching, many will resent and reject truth and consider the preaching a waste of their time and a colossal failure.
Another reason a sermon might be viewed as a failure is because false doctrines or fables have been previously accepted by the hearers and they have no desire for truth to interrupt their minds (2 Timothy 4:4).
As you prepare to gather to hear the preached word this coming Lord’s Day, do all that you can to get the most of the sermon. I assure you the faithful preacher will have spent time praying and preparing to be helpful.
Here are three things you can do to pray for all the other listeners that will gather with you:
Pray all will be open to truth. I mean absolute truth, not what is true to them. Pray for this.
Pray that all will listen with a mixture of hearing and faith. Oh that God would be pleased to bless His church with hearing ears and faithful followers.
Pray that the truth of Scripture is lifted above the frailty of the words of the preacher.
May the Spirit of the Living God fall afresh upon us in our day.