What Makes A Great Sermon Great? Abraham Lincoln’s Opinion…

EveryoneCommunicatesFewConnectI just finished reading John Maxwell’s new book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, and I’ll be talking about it in a future CLI Newsletter (you are getting the newsletter aren’t you? if not, click here).

Here’s a powerful story that Maxwell shares in this book:

President Abraham Lincoln, an incredible communicator, was known during the Civil War to attend a church not far from the White House on Wednesday nights. The preacher, Dr. Gurley, allowed the president to sit in the pastor’s study with the door open to the chancel so he could listen to the sermon without having to interact with the crowd.

One Wednesday evening as Lincoln and a companion walked back to the White House after the sermon, the president’s companion asked, “What did you think of tonight’s sermon?”

“Well,” Lincoln responded, “it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.”

“So, it was a great sermon?”

“No,” Lincoln replied. “It failed. It failed because Dr. Gurley did not ask us to do something great.” Inspiring communicators always expect a lot from their listeners.

I often joke about my propensity for “crash-landing” my sermons, but one thing I’ve learned to check for in every sermon I prepare: What am I asking these people to do with what I teach them?  I call it “preaching for next steps.”

The point is – as President Lincoln noted above – no matter how biblical, relevant, well presented or even brilliant your message may be, the lack of a clear and compelling call to action will render it a failure in motivating people to radical obedience.

So, what do you expect of the people you’ll be preaching to this Sunday?

What is the great thing that you’re going to challenge them to do?

P.S. For my hand-selected book recommendations and the best and latest in church leadership each month, be sure to subscribe to the Church Leader Insights Newsletter click here for your Free Subscription.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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