We’ve all endured ugly sermons.
The delivery was poor. The explanation of the text was lacking. The outline was difficult to follow.
Maybe it was boring. The speaker was visibly nervous and obviously struggling. The pastor rambled and not even he seemed to know where he was going with the message.
Whatever the situation, it fell below our high standards.
Many of these ugly sermons are ones we’ve all preached.
Critiquing a bad sermon is easy. Anyone can sit in the audience and act like a judge—like we do when we watch reality TV. But bad sermons are not always all bad.
To be clear, I’m not talking about preaching heresy or twisting the Bible to say something that God never intended to say. That’s never OK.
I’m talking about the common preaching mistakes that all pastors and aspiring pastors make as they learn and grow.
Although I am an advocate for powerful, God-glorifying, excellent sermons, the reality is that not all sermons will be the best we’ve ever preached.
So here are three reasons you can take joy in the occasional bad sermon:
1. All Pastors Preach Some Duds
You got one out of the way. As long as bad sermons are the exception and not the norm, you need to extend yourself some grace.
Your bad sermons probably aren’t as bad as you think, and your good ones probably aren’t as good either.
Thankfully, it’s not up to you.
The power of preaching comes from the Holy Spirit working in the heart and mind of the listener through the faithful teaching of God’s Word.
I’m always surprised by how God uses the sermons I’m discouraged about to change someone’s life.
Continue to faithfully preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2), and God will be faithful to do what only he can do.
2. A Stinker Can Become Fertilizer for Growth
Nobody grows as a preacher without preaching a few duds along the way—especially young pastors.
Every sermon, especially the bad ones, are learning opportunities.
What happened, and how can you make sure that it never happens again?
Learn from your mistakes and use them grow.
You’ll know that you are growing when you stop repeating the same mistakes.
3. Bad Sermons Humble Us
If you think that all your sermons are great, you’re either clueless or prideful.
Pastors must continually check themselves for pride. It’s easy to get puffed up when you’re the leader on the stage.
A bad sermon every now and again keeps you humble. As I said earlier, the power of your preaching is not about you anyway.
All pastors need a healthy dose of humility.
In fact, a humble pastor makes a better preacher.
Don’t ever forget that you are just a servant in the hands of an almighty God.
You are still an imperfect sinner who needs Jesus to save you just as much as everyone else in your church.
I’m so thankful for the pastors who allowed me to preach some ugly sermons in their pulpits. If it weren’t for them, I never would have had the opportunity to learn and grow in my preaching.
The path of every good preacher is paved with ugly sermons.
Get them out of the way. Keep learning. And don’t be discouraged.
Also, if you are a seasoned preaching veteran, look beyond the rough edges and see the potential in young, unseasoned preachers. Mentor them and allow them opportunities to preach an ugly sermon or two as they grow.
There is a leadership shortage in the church. We need to train up more young preachers.
An occasional ugly sermon may just be a sign of a healthy church raising up the next generation of leaders.