How to Tell If a Sermon is Good

Every week, millions of people around the world situate themselves in moderately uncomfortable seating and listen to someone talk at them for an extended period of time. I am, of course, referring to Christians who attend church services and listen to sermons. While Christian denominations differ on all manner of doctrine and practice, the proclamation of a message is accepted as standard practice by Christians worldwide.

Now, sermons vary quite a bit. They differ in title (sermon, message, homily, lesson), length (from 5 minutes to hours), style (read, Spirit-inspired, off-the-cuff, practiced), emphasis (as the central focus to a prelude to something else), and content (topical, exegetical, series, stand-alone, visionary, reactionary). Furthermore, as anyone who has attended church more than a handful of times can tell you, sermons also vary greatly in quality.

Some sermons are extremely boring, filled with clich├ęs, poor teaching, and dragging on for what seems like an eternity. Other messages are highly engaging, composed of amusing anecdotes, motivational testimonies, and powerful calls to action. Some sermons are theologically rich, rooted in solid exegesis, overflowing with biblical wisdom, and founded on timeless truths. Other times, sermons are theologically destitute, bereft of meaningful insights, rarely referencing the scriptures, and lacking identifiably Christian content. Continue reading

Blogging and Saint Patrick

SLU

Saint Louis University

The past two weekends have been especially busy, as I’ve attended and presented at two conferences. The first was ‘That They May Be One’: The Past, Present, and Future of Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue”, hosted by Saint Louis University and the St. Irenaeus Orthodox Theological Institute. Though I am neither Orthodox or Catholic (yet, as my colleagues like to remind me), I really enjoyed this conference, especially keynote speaker Fr. John Daley of Notre Dame. I had the opportunity to present a paper titled “Blogging Ecumenically: The Present and Future of Online Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue” based on my experiences as managing editor at Conciliar Post. I’ve been running this paper as a series here the past couple of weeks, but I’ve also posted the full version of the paper to my Academia.edu profile. (You can also comment below if you’d like me to send you the paper.) Continue reading