When I first started to preach and teach (15+ yeas ago) I held certain values for preaching. If a message contained some or all of these things, more than likely it was going to be a good message. Here are some of the values I had:
Length- Not, “the longer the better,” but longer was better than shorter.
Cross References- the more you have the better prepared you are and the stronger your “case” would be.
3+ points of declaration- less is weak.
Having a central passage to work out of- sticking with one main text and not creating a patchwork quilt of Scriptures or a “launch pad” sermon.
Quotes- using other people’s word validates your own conclusions.
Accuracy over read-a-bility in translations choice- we need to be correct first.
Invitation- not always an “alter call” but a chance for people to change.
Stories- my favorite part of other peoples teaching.
Usage of Hebrew and Greek in the preaching event- adds to the preacher’s credentials.
Principlize the text- draw out “how tos” or “we shoulds” based on any portion of the text in question.
Deductive structure- present main point upfront, followed by supporting material.
Authorial intent- we must understand what the author intended to communicate before we can understand what they are saying.
Using poem, songs lyric and hymns- Almost like quotes these provide extra biblical justification for the preacher's point.
Details- address every question, talk about every idea and explain every issues that arises from a passage.
Along the way, as I have grown in experience, knowledge and maturity some of these values have changed or shifted. This is where I am at now:
Length- longer is not better, neither is shorter. People will listen to a sermon as long as it is clear, well organized and provides good application.
Cross References- these take time and their return value is low. People will believe what you say based on the passage already being used, unless you are making it say something unnatural. Beside, the original readers did not have a collection of books to cross reference with. Scripture, as we know it, was not canonized until about the 3rd century.
3+ points of declaration- rubbish! Sometimes one solid point is plenty!
Having a central passage to work out of- still essential, when coupled with a central idea.
Quotes- only use someone else’s words when they say what you want better than you could.
Accuracy over read-a-bility in translations choice- I carry one translations (NASB), but study and reference 10+ other translations for understanding, retention and clarity. Sometimes it is better to publicly use a more understandable, readable and accessible translation.
Invitation- these can take place in many forms: alter calls, follow up opportunities, times of confession, self reflection, different avenues of self expression. Ask yourself, “What is the public sign of conversion?” Is it walking an aisle? No. Is it maybe praying a prayer? No. Or has it biblically and historically been baptism? Yes.
Stories- gotta keep them. They communicate so much!
Usage of Hebrew and Greek in the preaching event- some say never. I say use (sparingly) if it brings weight, understanding and clarity to your words.
Principles the text- This can easily be abuse. Be very careful! Some will say, "Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4 means he will calm the storms in our lives." Wrong! He may actually calm storms in our lives, but this text does not offer proof of this. If this is what we teach out of this Mark 4 story we have missed the point. Keep looking.
Deductive structure- Inductive is also good and helpful.
Authorial intent- this is key! A non-negotiable.
Using poem, songs lyric and hymns- not really necessary. Cultural touchstones can be useful if carefully thought through.
Details- good preachers know what to leave in and what to leave out.
If will be interesting to reevaluate in a few years.