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Sermon Preparation and Judging Guidelines

In light of the challenges in our nation and world, why does Jesus matter? Why does Jesus matter in anxiety and depression? In an age of doubt and skepticism? In the midst of religious pluralism? In social media? In leadership? In emotional health?

Why is Jesus the answer?

Sermon Preparation Trainings

Once you register, you will be emailed videos that will help you in biblical hermeneutics, apologetics in preaching, and speaking in culturally sensitive ways. While this is optional, we encourage you to use these faculty-given resources to help equip you in your sermon prep.

The following passages are provided to help set up, though these need not be the preaching text

  • Psalm 55:22
  • Psalm 116:1-6
  • Matthew 11:28-30
  • Mark 9:14-29
  • Romans 8
  • Philippians 3:7-14
  • Colossians 3:15

Whatever length of biblical text you specify for your sermon, we courage you to think contextually (both cultural and literary) as you prepare and deliver your sermon. Avoiding proof-texting (taking a text out of context) is simply about not misconstruing the text; it’s also about enhancing your insights and teaching by helping your audience see the text in its context, both thematically and historically.

Recommended Books

  • Evil and the Justice of God | N.T. Wright| Intervarsity Press / 2013
  • How People Grow | Henry Cloud | Zondervan / 2004


Judges will be asked to score each sermon based on 4 primary areas:

  1. Clear Structure and Communication Style
    • Does the sermon take you somewhere? Does the sermon have a beginning/intro that invites you to listen? Does it tell you what God has to say about the topic that is introduced? Does it push you towards transformation in any way?
    • Does the speaker seem comfortable in presenting? Are there are verbal "umms" or pauses that distract? Is their use of body movement helpful or distracting?
  2. Solid Biblical Exegesis/Hermeneutic
    • Does the sermon demonstrate contextual thinking (taking into account both cultural context and literary context)? Does it help the audience see the text in its context, both thematically and historically?
    • The authority of the preacher comes from the Word of God. Is the Bible the foundation of what this person is saying?
    • Does the sermon give to the listener a way of looking at the text in a way that is faithful to author’s intended meaning/pattern of thought?
    • Is the sermon using Biblical text simply to prove an idea they came up with, or is the point of the sermon derived from the text?
    • Did the sermon leave you with a greater understanding of God’s Word as it applies to your life?
  3. Personal Spiritual Formation of Communicator/Audience
    • Did the preacher/communicator reveal at all how this message affected her/him?
    • Can you see how this person’s relationship with God affected this message at all?
    • Did the preacher invite the audience to be spiritually formed in any way by God?
    • Was there personal/communal application for the lives of listeners?
  4. Insightful Understanding of the Audience/Context/Community
    • Can you imagine an audience that this sermon would connect with?
    • Did the communicator make an effort to relate in terms that an audience would easily relate to?
    • Did they use language that was accessible to a relatively broad audience?

Questions? Contact Jenny Vang at jenny-vang@bethel.edu or 651-638-6659