What to Do When Your Sermon Falls Flat

If you’ve preached for any time at all, you’ve had these days—days, that is, when you feel like your sermon this past weekend went nowhere. If that’s how you feel today, here are some steps to consider:

1. Don’t start the week discouraged. If you begin the week focused on yesterday’s perceived failure, the rest of the week might be affected. If, however, you approach the week positively—“yesterday’s sermon may not have been the best, but this week’s another opportunity to improve”—you’ll see things through a different grid. Don’t let the enemy grip you with discouragement. 

2. Be honest about your prep time last week. There are times when life and ministry make finding sufficient time for sermon preparation difficult. At other times, we simply don’t manage our time well, so we have little time left to dig into the Word. Either way, just be honest if your prep time could have been stronger—and then let it go. Do better this week. 

3. Ask God to help you evaluate the sermon honestly. Through His Spirit and through His people, He will guide you to critique your own work. You might confirm your concern, or you might realize you’ve been overly critical—but you will have evaluated your sermon some time after the event itself. That’s a good step. 

4. Ask someone you trust—and who will speak honestly to you—his or her assessment of the sermon. It could be that others heard your sermon completely differently than you did. You may be beating yourself up unnecessarily. Or, if your sermon could have been stronger, you’ve heard that word from someone who has earned your trust. That helps us hear the necessary critique. 

5. Listen to/watch the sermon yourself. I really don’t like listening to myself, but it’s still important to do. Sometimes I’ve found that what I remember happening in my sermon didn’t happen at all. At other times, I’ve learned that it did happen, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. This step helps me fight my tendency to fixate on the problem and  neglect recognizing the good in the sermon. 

6. Plan one step to make your sermon better this coming week. If you feel like your illustrations didn’t work last week, for example, work harder on that aspect this week. Do the same regardless of what the issue might have been last week. I encourage you, in fact, to write down the steps you will take for improvement, and then ask a prayer partner to intercede for you as you prepare. In fact, email me through this website you’d like me to pray that way for you. 

7. Thank God He’s a God of second chances and new beginnings—and prayerfully, diligently prepare to preach the Word well this week. The good news about a bad sermon is that most of us get another chance the next week to do better. Humbly take advantage of that opportunity. God bless, preachers! 

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This article originally appeared on ChuckLawless.com and is reposted here by permission.

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawlesshttp://ChuckLawless.com

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.