The book On Preaching (Moody Press) by HB Charles was recognized in the March-April issue of Preaching as our Book of the Year for 2014. (HB is also the host pastor of this year’s National Conference on Preaching, May 12-14, in Jacksonville, Florida. Learn more at In addition to this excellent book, Pastor Charles also has a website ( that includes interesting interviews and articles. In one such article, he talks about developing objectives for the sermon:

“The objectives of the sermon are the aims, goals, or targets you hope to accomplish in the hearts and minds of those who listen to the sermon…There are three big questions I ask as I consider the objectives of the sermon.

“What should they know as a result of hearing this sermon?
“There was an old deacon who would say to his pastor before church, ‘Don’t try to learn me nothing today, Rev. Just make me feel good.’

“The solemn duty of the Christian herald will not permit him to heed this advice. We must learn them something. Our preaching should teach Christian doctrine and living. The congregation should better understand the chosen text, the doctrine of the passage, and what it means to be a Christian when we preach.

“So ask yourself: What should the hearer know after hearing this sermon that they did not know already know? What truth should be declared, affirmed, or reinforced in the sermon? What will they learn by hearing this message?

“How should they feel as a result of hearing this sermon?
“Emotionalism in preaching is bad. But emotionless preaching is just as bad. An encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ in the sermon should cause one to feel a certain way, as well as think a certain way.

“Your sermon should be faithful to the truth of the text. It should also be faithful to the tone of the text. You should preach about hell with sorrow and solemnity. And you should talk about heaven with joy and hope. You obscure the truth if you neglect the tone.

“So ask yourself: What is the tone of the text? What is the mood of the message? Should the truth you preach end with a call to rejoice or a call to repent? Should the congregation leave this sermon convicted, challenged, comforted, chastened, or charged?

“What should they do as a result of hearing this sermon?

“The goal of Christian preaching is life transformation. You are self-deceived if you hear the word without doing what it says (James 1:22). What good is it if the congregation write down things they learn and feel moved by them but leave the message without doing anything about it?

“Interpretation without application is abortion. The sermon should call for a verdict. It should point the hearer in a specific direction or to a particular path. You should exhort the hearers to renew their minds, devote their affections, and submit their wills to the truth of God.

“So ask yourself: What should the hearer do about this sermon? What U-turn should the hearer make in his or her life? What should they start or stop or continue? Is there a sin to confess? Is there a truth to believe? Is there a command to obey? Is there a promise to trust? Is there a warning to heed?” (Click here to continue reading.)

Michael Duduit

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