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When Your Sermon is Not a Homerun

As preachers, we want to see phenomenal results every week when people encounter God through our worship gatherings. One of the primary means of encountering Him is through the declaration of what God has said about Himself through the Scriptures.

But we are not always great at it.

Each week, we hope that our sermon will be a homerun. However, I’ve hit a lot more singles and doubles than triples. I’ve hit even fewer homeruns. In all honesty, there are many Sundays my sermon feels like a poorly executed bunt that I have to hustle out to first base.

So what are you to do when you just hit a single?

Remember, to begin with, it was not your sermon.

The truth you are proclaiming is not your truth. It is God’s message to God’s people and those He is calling into submission to His sovereignty. It is easy to slip into an ownership mode about the sermon. After all, we tell stories about our family, our life, our struggles and our walk with Christ. But none of “us” should be the centerpiece of the message. It is His truth about Him.

Stop allowing your identity to be wrapped up in your performance.

So you hit a single. God is still God. You are still you. Remember the counsel that you give out so quickly to machinists, stay-at-home moms, engineers and students: “Your work does not define you. Christ now defines your identity.” Seek to do all of your work as unto the Lord and remember the respective roles in the proclamation of the gospel. As the old adage goes, we are just beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.

Pray more for the effect of the truth than the delivery of your message.

As you prepare for the message, spend more time praying for the people who hear it than for the lips who speak it. We must not fall prey to the temptation that our words will be the deciding factor over someone’s daily decisions or eternal destination. This is not to dissuade you from praying for yourself through the process. It is, however, to make your focus on the God who moves in the lives of all people, including the preacher.

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Philip Nation serves as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida and frequently speak at churches and conferences. He earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, he was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, Philip's served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter.