Will it Preach? 7 Questions to Ensure Your Sermon is Absolutely Ready

preaching Mar 24, 2023

You get to the end of a good week. You finished writing the sermon for Sunday. But the question is, will it preach? 

It’s penned but will it proclaim? It’s typed but will it talk? Better yet, will it walk?

You and I have both gotten to this point many times. You finish writing the sermon but you haven’t preached it yet. It’s the space where edits can be made. It’s one of the most important times in a sermon preparation process.

In this article, I want to show you seven questions you can ask that will ensure your sermon is absolutely ready to proclaim on Sunday.

Will it Preach? 7 Questions to Ensure Your Sermon is Absolutely Ready

Is it true?

This is an obvious question and it is likely a question that you’re constantly asking yourself throughout your sermon preparation (or should be). 

But here we’re not just asking whether or not your teaching points and insights are true. We’re also asking if every thread that you have present in the sermon is true and contributing to pulling the truth of the passage and the application of the passage toward people’s hearts and souls.

Is there anything in your written sermon that needs to be removed so that the actual sermon, the one that is preached, is more effective?

Am I showing the urgency?

In every sermon, we must help people see what is at stake. If they follow God’s leading… and if they don’t. What’s the difference between these two paths? 

Better yet, what’s at stake with trying to follow the commands of this passage without first surrendering to Jesus?

I love these two questions John Ortberg taught me that instantly show the urgency present in any passage:

  • What will your life look like if you get this wrong?
  • What will your life look like if you get this right?

 As I’ve said before, a sermon isn’t a Bible Study. It is a proclamation of the word of God that flows from accurate exegesis to urgent exhortation.

If you don’t preach with urgency, people will be less inclined to respond with urgency. 

Is there a rhythm of engagement?

From watching many sermons over the years, this is one of the most impactful questions a preacher can ask.

A good sermon is only good if it is heard. And a rhythm of engagement will help ensure that your message is not only heard, but that it is received deep inside people’s hearts.

Why? Because this question ensures that you’re not just preaching true statements but that you’re showing the truth in creative ways.

What’s a good rhythm of engagement? It’s one that is likely familiar to most every preacher, but not always followed:

  1. insight
  2. illustration
  3. implication

The problem is, many preachers tend to give more attention to insight than they do illustrations and implications. 

By keeping a good rhythm of engagement, you’ll not only teach the text well, but communicate it well.

As Timothy Keller has said, “Change happens not just by giving the mind new arguments but also by feeding the imagination new beauties.”

Can I summarize the message in 60 seconds or less?

It’s one thing to prepare and write a sermon, but do you understand the sermon well enough to give someone a synopsis of it in 60 seconds or less? 

If the answer is no, you’re probably not ready to deliver the sermon in an engaging way because you’ve set yourself up to depend too greatly on your notes. 

Here we’re talking about the work of internalizing your message. Working to embed the message in your mind and heart so that when you get to the preaching moment, you’re ready to let the Spirit work.

Am I preaching to anyone’s pain?

When you preach, don’t forget people’s pain. Don’t forget people’s pain. And the healing salve that is their Savior, Jesus Christ. The friend who doesn’t leave them when they’re hurting. The King who goes before them and who leads them safely through the valley of the shadow of death. The Lord who leads them out of slavery to sin and into Spirit indwelled freedom.

The preacher who preaches to hurting people will never have a lack of hearers.

Friend, never forget that the crucibles God has brought you through are your testimonies of God’s goodness in the midst of a sometimes painful world.

As Billy Graham said, “When I preach—no matter where it is in the world—I can always count on five areas of human need that afflict all peoples. Emptiness, loneliness, guilt, fear of death, deep-seated insecurity.”

Even when we’re hurting, God is working. (Don’t forget this next question…)

Am I pointing people to God’s work?

Many sermons preached have been about one, maybe two things: God’s work in the past and God’s coming work in the future. And both of those timeframes of God’s work are important. 

But, my friend, I would urge you to point people to God’s present work as well. 

The Spirit of God is at work, prompting people to respond to the word of God. Urging people to repent. Nudging people to take a step of faith. 

So when you preach, proclaim God’s work in the past. Proclaim Christ crucified and risen. Proclaim the return of our Lord. And don’t forget the mystery… Christ in you, the hope of glory.

“What is preaching? It is proclamation, not just moralizing. It is Good News, not just good advice; it is gospel, not just law. Supremely, it is about God and what he has done, not just about us and about what we ought to do.” - Ian Pitt-Watson

Will they know some ways to respond?

In light of what God has done (and is doing), how must people respond? 

Will those who haven’t surrendered to Jesus be prompted to surrender to Him? Will those who follow Jesus be shown how to depend on Him evermore deeply?

A sermon’s true conclusion is a person’s response. And as the preacher, you can’t control their response. But you can be faithful in pointing them to the path that God is beckoning them to walk.

Remind them of the urgency of the moment and the need for their response. And let God handle the rest. 

A Process to Craft Biblical, Transformational Messages

What would be better than merely asking these questions after you’ve written your message?

Having a process of rightly dividing the word of truth not merely for transferring information but for transformation.

That is why I created The Craft of Biblical Preaching, a value-packed ten-lesson course to help you go from good preaching to transformational preaching by improving the heart of a sticky sermon: the truth and application sections.

In The Craft of Biblical Preaching, you’ll learn:

  • How to go DEEP on one passage by exegeting the text and your people, step-by-step
  • How to incorporate language work into your sermon prep process
  • The key to transformational, biblical preaching: meditating and reflecting on the text
  • How to craft heart-level applications that target the multi-layered narratives that are present in people’s hearts and preach the hope-inducing narrative of God’s word
  • How to make your sermon come to life by mining fresh illustrations and angles
  • Multiple frameworks for preaching the gospel every time
  • How to make good use of commentaries
  • How to powerfully preach the OT
  • How to powerfully preach narratives
  • How to powerfully preach the NT

Enrollment re-opens next week.

In the meantime, grab this free download

If you want to be faithful to the text, prepare efficiently, and craft your sermon memorably, I’ve got just the thing to help. It’s called the 10-step guide to writing a sticky sermon and it’s yours for free. Just click here to grab your copy.

Write sermons that stick!

Learn the 10-step process to crafting and writing a memorable, transformational sermon. Download this free guide today.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.