Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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How to Strengthen a Sermon
by Tom Goodman
May 12, 2010

What can you do to strengthen a sermon?

Your first reaction to that question might be, "Well, nothing.  Since I don't do the speaking, I don't have any control over how to make a sermon more effective."

Jesus would disagree.  He often told his listeners, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  In one parable he spoke of seed that bore fruit depending on the soil -- a reference to how his words could bear fruit only in receptive hearts.

It's time to rediscover three ways that listeners can strengthen the sermons they hear.  These practices aren't new.  According to Leland Ryken's book, Worldly Saints, the early Puritans began these practices over three hundred years ago.  "The Puritans," he wrote, "emphatically did not regard the sermon as a spectator activity."

First, the Puritans took notes.

Second, after the sermon, according to one contemporary observer, the Puritans "held arguments among themselves about the meaning of various Scripture texts, all of them, men and women, boys and girls, laborers, workmen and simpletons."

Third, the Puritans spent further reflection upon the sermon.  "One sermon well digested, well meditated upon," wrote Puritan Edmund Calamy, "is better than twenty sermons without meditation."

We give you a chance to follow these three practices at Hillcrest.

First, we give you notes to complete as I preach.  When I refer you to your sermon notes where you complete sentences or circle certain words or read certain verses aloud with me, your participation actually strengthens the sermon.

Second, we reinforce the points of the sermon in Common Ground discussions.  We consider our Sunday morning schedule to be one program in two locations: the auditorium, and then your small group.  To leave after the worship service is like leaving in the middle of the movie!

Third, we even create a way for you to reflect on the sermon throughout your week.  By subscribing to "The Daily Cup," each weekday morning you will find in your e-mail inbox a brief scripture reading and thought-provoking question based on the sermon from the previous Sunday.  Herb Ingram writes these.  Write him at and ask him to sign you up.

It's not just a preacher that makes a sermon effective.  The listener has his or her role to play as well.  Take advantage of these three ancient ways to strengthen a sermon!


Weblog:  Check out my blog, "Get Anchored," with its Links to Your World -- interesting and informative links, posted every Tuesday.

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