5 Things I Want to Hear in a Sermon


As a regular pastor, you rarely get the opportunity to “go” to church with your family. On a typical Sunday I arrive at church at least an hour before anyone in my family hits snooze on the Sunday morning alarm. Eventually we all end up at the same building, but even then we’re rarely together. I’m teaching and preaching, my wife is working in the nursery, and our kids are sitting with family or friends.

Summer vacation is different. In fact, my favorite part of summer vacation isn’t getting away from the busyness of life … it’s getting to “go” to church with my family. In particular, I get excited about listening to good preaching with my family. On recent vacations we’ve enjoyed the preaching of pastors like Luke Evans (Christ Church, San Antonio, TX), David Ritchie (Redeemer Christian, Amarillo, TX), and Andrew Hebert (Paramount Baptist, Amarillo, TX).

When I have the rare opportunity to “go” to church with my family and I get the chance to sit under biblical preaching, there are at least 5 things I want to hear from the preacher.

  1. The Context … I wasn’t in your congregation the week before. I didn’t hear the previous message in your series, nor did I listen to you preach the previous passage. That means I want to understand the context of the passage at hand. How does the text fit into the book in which it’s located? How does the passage fit into the broader story line of scripture? Help me see the big picture.
  2. The Point … Rather than using the Bible to prove your point, I want the text to control your points. More specifically, I want to know THE point of the passage at hand. What’s the big idea of the text? I want you to spell it out for me. Put it on the handout. Display it on the screen. Say it multiple times. I want to walk away being able to summarize the passage in a single sentence.
  3. The Gospel … That’s why we’re gathered, right? To celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ? It’s not that I’m unsure about the gospel, it’s that I need to reminded of the gospel. That’s your job as the preacher. Tell me that God is holy. Tell me that I’m a sinner. Tell me that Jesus is the answer. Tell me I must repent and believe the good news. Make sure to talk about the gospel!
  4. My Response … When I walk out of your worship service, I want to know what in the world I’m supposed to do, or who I’m supposed to be, or how I’m supposed to feel. Do I need to repent? Do I need to confess sin? Do I need to rest on one of God’s promises? I’m not asking for list of legalistic rules to follow. I am asking you to tell me how I’m supposed to respond to God’s Word.
  5. Your Personality … I didn’t come to your church to listen to Matt Chandler. I came to listen to you. I don’t want to hear your best John Piper impersonation. I want to hear you. I’m not asking for a comedy routine or even a certain level of oratorical skill. Instead, I want you to be comfortable in your own skin, comfortable with your own voice, and focused on preaching the Word of God.

If you’re a regular pastor, you probably know the joy of getting to “go” to church with your family. You also know the joy of getting to sit under biblical preaching. I’d love to know … when you get this chance, what do you want to hear in a sermon? Church members, is there anything you would add to this list?

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