What Is a ‘Vital Sermon,’ exactly?


The purposes of Vital Sermons are two:

  1. To help sermons carry beyond the walls of the place of worship in which they’re spoken, to eyes and ears they would never otherwise reach.
  2. To deliver people into places of worship they would never otherwise find, to hear from church leaders they would never otherwise know.

Here are the sorts of sermons that we think will travel well, and move people:

  1. You’ve given a sermon the likes of which you haven’t heard before. You’ve had a unique experience that led to a special sermon. Or a startling insight. Or a particularly vivid analogy. If you feel strongly that this is one sermon that you wish more people had heard—that’s probably one to submit to our curators.
  2. You’ve given a topical sermon. It’s human nature to want to hear more about what we’re already thinking about—and what we know our neighbors are also thinking about. And it’s natural to ask, “Why are we listening to this particular sermon today?” A vital sermon usually answers that question near its opening.
  3. You’ve given a sermon the likes of which only you could deliver. It’s not about you necessarily, but it comes from you, or through you, in a way and in words that would come through no one else. Such sermons make the listener, even if he or she numbers among hundreds or thousands, feel uniquely spoken to.
  4. Humor is good, bold statements are good, stories are good, contemporary language and references are good. That’s true of all sermons, of course, but especially for sermons that we’re hoping to display to draw strangers to you, your place of worship and your message. Long passages or dense discussions of scripture, on the other hand, are fine for your regular Vital Sermons posts, but probably not suited for consideration for Sermon of the Week.
  5. Perhaps of most importance, you’ve written a sermon that had a particularly deep impact on those who heard it. Sometimes this impact surprises the preacher. But the preacher is unwise to dismiss any strong reaction his or her words elicit as being situational or specific to this particular audience. What truly touches some usually touches all.

For our purposes—and your purposes too—the people seeing, hearing or reading your sermon should sense as soon as possible and clearly as possible: Ah, of course this is why this sermon is featured prominently by Vital Sermons. Because it is a vital sermon!