(I wrote this review in 2012)
Dr Joel Beeke contributed a series of articles to The Puritan Reformed Journal which, I am delighted to say, have now been brought together in a short book, published by Evangelical Press, entitled How to Evaluate Sermons. Note, though, it’s aimed at preachers evaluating their own sermons – not how to evaluate other people’s sermons!
Joel Beeke poses five questions that we should ask ourselves about our preaching, based on 1 Cor.3:5-15. Beeke says these questions “provide both a motivation and a method for evaluating our sermons.
The five questions are:
1. Did I preach as God’s servant?
2. Did I preach to build God’s church?
3. Did I preach Christ as the only foundation?
4. Did I build my sermon with the precious materials of reformed experiential preaching?
5. Did I preach for the Master’s reward?
There is a short section in which he unpacks and applies each of those questions and poses some questions we can ask to evaluate our preparation and our preaching in the light of that biblical principle. For example, in dealing with the question, `Did I preach as God’s servant?’, Beeke suggests such questions as
- did I demonstrate to my hearers that the sermon came from God’s Word and not my ideas?
- did I study the Scripture text on my knees, with fervent please for illumination?
All the questions are brought together at the end of the book so that they can be easily copied and used repeatedly.
Rarely has so much of value been contained in such a small volume; just 48 pages!
In practice, there’s far too much here to evaluate any one sermon, at least to start with. Let me encourage you to do what I propose to do over the next year; ask at least one of the five main questions about every sermon I preach this year. I cannot believe that my preaching will not improve and be more God-honouring as a result.
Of course, you have to buy this little book to do that, but at less than £4, that’s hardly an extravagance!