- Bible text(s) - sometimes multiple references throughout - making it sound like a sermon should.
- Preacher stories - illustrations and examples that fit the sermon mold. Often they can be out of the preachers' personal lives and sound just like you would expect.
- Competent delivery. Sermony sermons can be lively and well-presented.
I do not intend 'sermony' to mean that sermons do not have Scripture, or are poorly thought out or inadequately presented. They are not necessarily dull at all! Indeed, many regular church goers are entirely satisified by what they regularly hear and (maybe) would protest this is what preaching is always meant to be.
BUT, preaching is not about filling in twenty minutes with 'stuff'. About meeting expectations of a job well done and a sermon slot completed. Rather, preaching is about God's laser-sharp, gut-reaching, spirit-convicting word for this particular people and at his particular time. It surprises, delights, rebukes with spiritual freshness that catch hearers out because it has surprised,delighted, rebuked the preacher first. It's a spiritual happening when God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - meets us at deeper levels in spirit and in truth. People are not left saying: 'That was a good sermon' revealing their judgments about what a sermon should look like. Instead they say: "God encountered me today" and they know they can live in different ways of grace together.
Can a preacher guarantee that a sermon is a 'spiritual happening'? Of course not! It all depends on God at work, with his word through the preacher and people. But preachers can tragically smother spiritual possibilities when they settle for 'sermony stuff'. I know that I have been guilty of that! More later.