Convicting Sermons

Oct 04

Convicting Sermons

I have often been frustrated at modern-day sermons not bringing conviction. Part of my focus as a pastor has been to NOT be one of those guys who tries to please people when preaching, but instead tells the truth of Scripture, even though they are hard truths to hear.

Yet, I think there is a danger in trying to preach with conviction. Why try to be convicting? After all, truth itself is convicting. Preachers don’t need to try to be convicting if we simply preach what Scripture says. Truth naturally brings conviction. I think I try to be convicting, because I want people to respond to Jesus.

Some people fear the negative results of conviction (i.e. people getting offended), so they try to water down the truth in hopes of having more people respond favorably to Jesus. I know this is not correct. This distorts God’s message in hopes of getting people to respond–the ends do not justify the means.

Yet, trying to be convicting is just as bad. It shows a lack of faith in God to do the work himself.

The truth is, when God’s truth is simply proclaimed as it is, unaltered, it must bring conviction on everyone who hears it. The truth naturally does this. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone will respond favorably to the truth. We all have a choice to surrender to God’s conviction, or to resist it. Granted, that makes it tempting for a preacher to try to make things more convicting, attempting to make it harder for the hearer to resist and convincing them to give in to God.

I don’t think that attempting to make a message more convicting has greater results than simply preaching the truth as is. Instead, it just has the potential of getting both the speaker and the listener frustrated. We cannot step in and do the work of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, it is deeply frustrating when you know the Holy Spirit is convicting people, and yet they seem to be resisting at every point. I need to learn that at this point, my hands are tied. I must continue to pray for such people. Little else helps.

Often, when I’m crafting a sermon, I know ahead of time that I will be facing people who will be resisting what God wants them to hear and how He wants them to respond. I have to admit that this knowledge many times affects how I deliver the message. I keep thinking, “How can I convey this in a way that will get through that resistance?”

I realize now that this is wrong thinking. Instead of worrying about those who are going to resist, I need to focus the message more for the sake of those whose hearts are full of faith, expecting and desiring something from God. As an analogy, why try to cook for those who come to church with a full stomach of this world and have no appetite, and ignore those who come hungry for Jesus?

May God’s Word be proclaimed faithfully in our church, for the sake of those whom God is convicting for His glory and whose hearts are malleable to His calling.


  1. “Instead of worrying about those who are going to resist, I need to focus the message more for the sake of those whose hearts are full of faith, expecting and desiring something from God.”

    I totally agree. Focus on discipling those who want to grow spiritually.

  2. Completely agree. A minister shouldn’t shy from the truth, but it isn’t his or her job to do the convicting.

    I had a spirited conversation with a few people from my church a few days ago regarding the value of emotional pleas from the pulpit. One man whom I respect a great deal noted that if someone comes forward to an altar due to an emotional plea rather than in response to the Spirit’s urging, then the altar is not going to be making a lasting effect on that person.

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