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Years ago, when I began preaching, I developed a list of 20 questions to evaluate a sermon—before preaching it. It remains a mental checklist I use to this day:

1. Do I grab the listener’s attention as soon as I start speaking?

2. Does the talk start where people are (with their culture, needs, problems, issues, questions)?

3. Does it come on too strong, too fast?

4. Am I teaching the listener something he didn’t already know?

5. Am I communicating what God says, not my opinions?

6. Have I included an introduction of myself and words of welcome to the listener?

7. Have I included a re-statement somewhere in the talk of either Cobblestone's mission ("loving people into life-changing encounters with God") or distinctives (community-oriented, student-friendly, seeker-aware, outward-focused)?

8. Have I offered an elementary (but not condescending) explanation of the text that will help even a Bible newbie find it without feeling stupid (as well as avoidance of "church lingo" as much as possible)?

9. Have I revealed anything of myself in the talk without revealing anything inappropriate (so much the better if it’s vulnerable, self-effacing, and/or winsome)?

10. Do I interact with my listeners in the talk (e.g., mentioning people’s names, asking for responses, etc.)?

11. Have I included humor?

12. Am I being realistic instead of shallow? Will my listener believe I understand what he’s really going through?

13. Have I touched (not manipulated) my listener’s emotions?

14. Is my talk focused enough (instead of rambling)?

15. Have I played a part in meeting a felt need?

16. Is the “solution” I propose realistic? Life-related? Biblical?

17. Does the structure of my talk logically lead to the conclusion/application?

18. Have I left out anything important, crucial?

19. Have I given clear application for both a seeker and a Christian that answers the question, "OK, what am I supposed to do with this information now/today/this week?”

20. Have I made reference to how my listener can find further help (e.g., prayer counselors)?

A few things changed over the years. And if I were to revise it today, I would change a few things (e.g., adding some sort of reference to creating a visual, tactile, or other sensory impact, as I did in the sermon pictured above by wearing a straitjacket for much of the message). But overall, the questions still serve pretty well.

So what questions would you add or subtract? Or revise?

Bob Hostetler is a writer, editor and speaker from southeastern Ohio. His 30 books, which include Quit Going to Church and the novel The Bone Box, have sold over three million copies. He has coauthored a dozen books with Josh McDowell. Bob is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences and retreats. He has been a disc jockey, pastor, magazine editor, freelance book editor and, with his wife Robin, a foster parent to 10 boys (though not all at once).

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Talk about it...

Jonathan Mbuna

commented on Apr 10, 2014

I like adding the question ' is my sermon relevant to the audience?' and honestly I have to go on my knees on this question!

Mark Hudson

commented on Apr 10, 2014

I wouldn't subtract anything. I would add "Is my message balanced, i.e. have I rightly divided the word of Truth? Also, "have I asked for the help of the Holy Spirit?" Great thoughts on an important task.

Samwel William Ndayahoze

commented on Apr 12, 2014

Samwel William Ndayahoze April 12, 2014. I would like to add the question: Is my sermon originated from the Holy Spirit for arousing and touch people's lives

Samwel William Ndayahoze

commented on Apr 12, 2014

Samwel William Ndayahoze April 12, 2014. I would like to add the question: Is my sermon originated from the Holy Spirit for arousing and touch people's lives

John Stewart

commented on Apr 14, 2014

I would add two questions: 1. (as mentioned at the end) "Have I been visual in my presentation, not just speaking, so as to further enhance the message and that people would remember it when they leave?" and 2. "Is my message short enough to allow people to stay engaged and attentive?"

Nom De Plume

commented on Apr 15, 2014

How about, "was I faithful to clearly explain the meaning of the text, as intended by the author(s) -- interpretation". I say this respectfully, but I would omit almost everything on this list.

Nom De Plume

commented on Apr 15, 2014

How about, "was I faithful to clearly explain the meaning of the text, as intended by the author(s) -- interpretation". I say this respectfully, but I would omit almost everything on this list.

Keith Roberts

commented on Jul 11, 2015

I would omit "Have I included an introduction of myself". I normally don't do this unless I am a visiting speaker. Second, I would add, "Have I spent enough time praying about the message?" Sometimes I review the entire message on my knees.

Daniel Leavitt

commented on Jul 11, 2015

I love #5. That covers "faithful to clearly explain the meaning of the text, as intended by the author(s)"

Taiwo Opajobi

commented on Jul 11, 2015

I would add, is what I am telling the people to do possible, have I tried it myself or am I ready to do it?

Terry Phillips

commented on Jul 12, 2015

Helpful, as are the comments following. I'll add mine: "Can I sum up in a single sentence what I am saying in the sermon, and will my listeners be able to?"

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