6 Marks of Effective Preaching

I met recently with the Pastoral Residents at Redemption Church to discuss preaching. In particular, we were exploring what makes effective preaching. (Here’s our working definition of preaching)

I think Redemption is known for having strong preaching (across all six congregations), so I spent some time reflecting on what marks the preaching culture we have. What’s our preaching DNA? After all, that’s what we’d like to transfer to our Pastoral Residents.

Effective Preaching

NOTE: These are not the only marks of effective preaching, but they are what have marked us.

1. Submitting to the authority of the text. This means that the author’s intended meaning drives the sermon. We don’t come to the sermon trying to wrangle the text into saying something else. We don’t use the text as a trampoline into what we really want to say. Rather, we trust the text to chart the course of the sermon.

2. Connecting every text to its gospel thread. All of Scripture has gospel threads — themes, ideas, or elements that connect it to the larger redemptive story. We try to find that thread and trace it out to see how the text points to Jesus.

3. Bringing excitement to the text. We are genuinely curious and enthusiastic about the Bible. We want to know what it says and means. We often hear people say, “The Bible comes alive when you preach,” and one of the reasons is because we are excited about the Bible.

4. Using humor, especially self-deprecating humor. We like to laugh and don’t take ourselves too seriously. We also know that humor is an effective way to keep people engaged, relieve some of the tension, and open us to learning. We also think it’s important to laugh at ourselves.

5. Making the sermon applicable to ordinary people and every day life. We want ordinary people to feel like they connected with the Bible through our sermons. It’s great to have big, bold ideas but it’s critical that our preaching connect those to “the average guy.” Because, after all, we’re all pretty dang average.

6. Leading people through the preaching. As preachers, we aren’t just giving sermons. We’re leading through the preaching. We’re seeking to take a congregation somewhere. Specifically, we’re trying to shape the congregation into a missional church that sees herself as God’s representative to a fallen world.

I’m delighted that I get to preach God’s word on a regular basis and that I get to help shape the next generation of preachers that we have the opportunity to influence.

Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

2 thoughts on “6 Marks of Effective Preaching

  1. This is very helpful, Luke. I’m going to keep it around and also share it with the others guys at Tempe who are trying to grow in effective preaching. I really appreciate how concise and clear you are at communicating things like this.

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