What Makes a Good Sermon?

I was born into the church; the Seventh- Day Adventist Church to be exact. Also, I have had the pleasure of visiting churches outside my denomination with my college gospel choir. With all that church experience you can imagine that I have heard a great deal of sermons. Some of them happen to be from from my father, who in my opinion is an excellent speaker. The man can start a conversation with a complete stranger. While I wasn’t blessed with the “gift of gab” as he calls it, I do have words of encouragement on how certain ministers can do better in giving messages.

Length A sermon in my  opinion should be no longer than 25 to 30 minutes. Any longer than that puts you at risk of putting people to sleep or causing them to walk out the door. I will be the first to admit that I have exited a sanctuary to get air during a sermon that didn’t quite reach me. Also, I have occasionally caught some Z’s and strained my neck against church pews trying to keep awake on a lecture like sermon.

American Christian pioneer and prolific author Ellen G. White explains that lengthy sermons give people more than they can remember, that the message could lose it’s flavor,  and “that which is spoken in the first hour is of far more value if the sermon closes then than the words that are spoken in an added half hour”. —Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 256. – {Pastoral Ministry 199.5}

Tone An audience will be not be bored with the message if you have some energy. No you are not required to yell; hop around; run in place; speak in tounges; or bang on objects to get your point across, but you don’t have to sound like you’re giving a college lecture either. White gives an excellent example of how one should speak the message.

“The voice is a great power, and yet many have not trained their voices in such a way that they may be used to their highest capacity. Jesus is our example. His voice was musical, and was never raised in high, strained notes while He was speaking to the people. He did not speak so rapidly that His words were crowded one upon another in such a way that it made it difficult to understand Him. He distinctly enunciated every word, and those who heard His voice bore the testimony that “never man spake like this man.”—The Review and Herald, March 5, 1895. – {Pastoral Ministry 199.2}

Topic You’re destined to touch on the same bible passages because the book has been around for centuries, but you should be able to bring up something new; a twist. Don’t make a habit of preaching about the same topics constantly.

White says, “We should draw fresh, new matter from the store-house of God’s Word. We are desirous that the angels of God may stand by our side when we are in the sacred desk, that God may impress the mind; that there may be glorious unfoldings of the truth; that it may be presented in the demonstration of the Spirit; that it may be meat in due season to the flock of God.”—The Review and Herald, June 4, 1889. – {Pastoral Ministry 187.3}

All these things in my opinion are what make a good sermon. To those who are blessed with the gift to minister through sermons, I pray that God continues to speak to others through you.

To prep for somebody who you know often preaches long, the following suggestions are recommended:

  • Eat a big breakfast.
  • Bring a snack. Preferably you should eat this outside of the sanctuary for reverence.
  • Get plenty of rest the night before.

If you care to read more of the writings of Ellen G. White I encourage you to read her books or download the app EGW Writings on your phone. Her books include The Great Controversy(1858), Desire of Ages(1898), Patriarchs and Prophets(1890), and more. If you are in your teens or 20s I highly recommend starting off with her book Messages to YoungPeople(1930). 


White, Ellen. “Pastoral Ministry.” EGW Writings . Ellen G. White Estate, Inc, 6 Oct 2016. Web. 30 Oct 2016.

By David Harris

I was born on January 31, 1992. I graduated from Austin Peay State University in December 2015 with a B.S. My major was Communications, with a concentration in Print & Web Journalism. My minor was English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. Writing is my passion. I’m a book lover. I prefer to to be called a Booklion rather than a bookworm. Why- lions are mightier.
My first love is Jesus Christ. I was raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. No we are not a cult. We are Christians who worship on Saturday.
I have been stuttering since I was four, but through Christ I have persevered through it and will continue to do so. I’m not thing with Him.
Singing is another passion of mine. God blessed with me with the gift of song, which I am grateful for.

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