We’ve all sat in sermons that weren’t very helpful. The content can be theologically sound, the work of the preacher was put into the text and they’ve tried to bring out the right things, but you’ve still walked away somewhat confused. Ever felt like that?
The tendency of many church goers today, when they hear a sermon that they can’t quite follow is to say that the sermon was too academic. I’ve heard this quite a lot. When in actual fact ‘academic’ is the wrong word.
See you can have a sermon that sounds as if the person is reading a commentary, we’ve all heard those sermons. The theology is sound, they’re pointing the listener to the Bible verses, the application can be good, but there’s still something wrong.
It’s normally clarity, or the lack of it! It might be that the preacher hasn’t got their sermon distilled enough into a sentence that encapsulates the whole passage, or that there’s no structure, or that there’s simply too much information. It could be that the speaker is throwing in too many stories in order to ‘help’ the listeners tune in properly.
I’ve sat in sermons that genuinely were very academic, but due to their clarity it didn’t feel that way. I’ve sat in sermons that were theologically and scripturally dubious and heard people perplexed by the ‘depth of the sermon’ and the issue was a lack of clarity (also theological clarity in this case!).
But it’s important that we use the right language, because if clarity is the issue then that can be fixed. The speaker can be given feedback and encouraged to invest time in making sure that He communicates God’s Word effectively.
As a preacher I want the church to tell me if they were confused or struggled with a sermon. Someone can struggle to follow a sermon for a whole host of reasons, but if I can work in order to help the whole church walk away from the sermon with a genuine appreciation and understanding of the passage, a deeper love for Jesus and a greater desire to serve him more then I’ve done my job.
God is tremendously gracious to even use preachers to speak His Word, we just need to make sure that we’re clear.
One thought on “A lack of clarity”
I think a huge element is whether it comes across that the preacher cares and is passionate about what they are preaching – rather than finds it moderately interesting.
I remember a great example of someone preaching on the image of the temple from Genesis all the way through to Revelation. It was in depth, detailed, could have been dry. But the thing that I most went away with was that he loved the Bible and found great joy in it.
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