Elements of a STICKY Sermon - Scripture

I went to a sales seminar a couple of years ago. Over the course of the day there were musicians playing music while encouraging us to sing along, speakers telling success stories, designated times to meet and greet other attendees, opportunities to attend breakout classes, and appeals to attend another seminar in the future.

It all felt like a bad high school pep rally, or sadly enough, like a contemporary church service. The blunt truth is that too many sermons today have been reduced to motivational speeches that could have been delivered by Tony Robbins.

What prevents this from happening?


In the Bible we find people, stories, poems, prayers, events, and correspondence testifying to the ongoing acts of God within creation and on behalf of his people. Scripture, then, is more than a veneer to overlay a motivational speech about how much of our personal potential we have yet to realize.

Scripture is the very foundation and authorization of our proclamation.

John Piper, pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, says that using Scripture is not to be neglected or considered as an afterthought. He writes, "Again and again my advice to beginning preachers is, 'Quote the text! Quote the text! Say the actual words of the text again and again. Show the people where your ideas are coming from'" (The Supremacy of God in Preaching, 88).

If you are to keep the sermon from sounding like a trivial, self-indulgent exposition of contemporary culture and human achievement, you must stick to Scripture.

The historic dimension of Scripture keeps us from the ethnocentrism that so easily think our modern way is the best way and they're way (whoever "they" might be) is clearly inferior.

Likewise, the present application of Scripture prevents us from the pious nostalgia that thinks the "spiritual" life would be so much better for us if we lived a long time ago and far far away.

Over against those responses, the Scriptures insist that we live as characters in the forward-looking drama of God and the world that God is renewing through us, his image-bearing creation.

A sticky sermon, then, must negotiate the distance between the historic and present aspects of Scripture in ways that listeners can understand. N.T. Wright notes the centrality of this task when he says, "[T]hroughout the history of the church, preachers have sought both to understand what Scripture was saying in its original context and to convey to their hearers what this might mean in their own day (Simply Christian, 188).

If you desire to increase "The Stickiness Factor" of your sermons, I encourage you to lean on the Scriptures - both the story they're telling and the God to whom they're pointing.


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