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Preaching: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons: A Roadmap for Biblical

DISCLAIMER

This book contains excerpts from my Expository Preaching textbook entitled: CROSSING THE HOMILETICAL BRIDGE (Available in KINDLE HERE[*)*]

Crossing the Homiletical Bridge has some 278 pages in the Kindle Edition and is MUCH more detailed than this version. While this book contains a WEALTH of information and WILL help you learn the basic principles of biblical preaching, Crossing the Homiletical Bridge will guide you into MANY more aspects of sermon development, pastoral preaching, and sermon delivery. Crossing the Homiletical Bridge is the primary textbook for my expository/biblical preaching courses at Bible Colleges and Seminaries. At only $2.99 it will be a wonderful investment in your preaching development.

Also please Visit my Expository Preaching Website and Grab you FREE Copy of my Ebook on Pastoral Preaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.sermonoutlinesfromthebible.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Two Unbreakable Rules of Expositional Preaching

 

They tell us that expository preaching tends to be irrelevant to the contemporary audience. Who “they” are, at least for me, remains the big question. Rick McDaniel did explain, however, that during the last thirty years of the twentieth century American society changed from a Christian to a secular culture. He noted that the majority of Americans have limited knowledge of biblical stories and characters.^^1^^ I see no reason to question McDaniel’s contention. Haddon Robinson further added that recent criticisms of modern preaching include statements such as “too much analysis and too little answer” or “too impersonal, too propositional -- they relate nothing to life.” ^^2^^ The modern-day expositor, therefore, must struggle with applying the biblical text to a biblically ignorant culture while concurrently demonstrating the relevance for that culture. This truth has led me to conclude that there are two unbreakable rules to follow if the preacher/teacher has any hope of connecting with the contemporary listener.

 

Be Uncompromisingly Biblical

 

The first rule, quite simply, is to be uncompromisingly biblical! In my exposition classes I always begin the first lecture with a discussion of the 2 rules of preaching. I stress a problem that most of my students struggle with believing is actually a problem. I give the analogy of the fast-food lunch. I state that most of them would never consider going to McDonald’s for a Big Mac, then driving across the street for Burger King fries, then around the corner for Arby’s Coca-Cola, and then proceeding to Wendy’s for a Frosty. I stress that each restaurant has enough on their respective menus to satisfy the day’s need for a fast-food fix. Of course the majority of the students readily agree that such an approach to lunch indeed would be ludicrous (of course there is usually one wise guy who says he does it habitually).

I then tell my students that if such an approach is ludicrous for lunch then why isn’t it equally ludicrous for the preacher who is preparing a sermon or the teacher preparing a Bible study? Once the students are fully perplexed with where I might be going with this, I then explain that many preacher/teachers bounce their congregants around from text to text or passage to passage as they deliver a topical message on the subject of “love,” “faith,” “child-rearing,” or whatever. Because these “preachers” bring their subjects to the Bible, rather than allowing a selected biblical text to provide the subject matter, they are forced to move around the Bible in search of texts that seemingly support their notions. At this point I typically quote Walter Kaiser who humorously argued that a preacher should preach a topical sermon once every five years and then immediately repent!^^3^^ Of course in my quoting of Kaiser I am somewhat tongue-in-cheek. He and I, however, readily acknowledge that in our estimation pure biblical exposition is the need of the hour and most appropriate form of biblical communication.

Initially, my students reject the notion that “Bible-bouncing” (as I call it) is taboo. They do so because they have been reared on this type of preaching all (or most) of their lives. In the vain attempt of preachers to “make the Bible relevant” to the contemporary culture many have adapted this “pick and choose” approach. These preachers select subjects that they believe can be “Bible-ized.” So subjects and issues that people are dealing with are taken to the Bible in an effort to find some spiritual teaching related to them. They surmise that anything less simply would be “irrelevant.” Jim Shaddix rightly noted, however, that “… preaching should not be driven by a preference, a program, or even a purpose, especially that of answering all the questions people ask. Instead preaching should be driven by a passion for the glory of God, a passion jointly possessed by both pastor and people.”^^4^^ What a concept! Many preachers need to be shocked back into the reality that church and ministry are more about the Lord Jesus and His purposes for the world than for the daily needs and life struggles of church congregants.

If you ever want to really annoy me, then swing by my house and tape one of those “New Community Church” fliers to my mailbox. They are virtually all the same: basically insulting to most churches under heaven! The authors and designers of these fliers believe they are attempting to reach out to the non-reached segment of the community (those who may believe that churches tend to be out of touch with the “real” issues people face). With statements such as “No denominational affiliation,” “no rigidity, but a relaxed, casual environment,” and (my personal favorite) “meaningful and relevant messages” they actually belittle all other churches. I always wonder if it ever crosses the minds of these church planters that, in essence, they have exalted and puffed themselves up with their implications of “we do it right!” Seemingly, they don’t realize that they have insulted and minimized the ministries of churches that have existed in their community for years.

Please understand. I know what these “New Community” church leaders think they are doing. I am glad they are striving to reach out to the un-churched. I know that they do not set out to insult any pastor, church, or ministry. Their intentions are wholesome. But doesn’t it make sense that to say that they have “meaningful and relevant messages” that they are basically inferring that most other messages in other churches are not relevant or meaningful? I really would like to take some of these “New Community” church leaders (“relevanteers” as I call them) out to lunch and ask the following questions:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Where and how do they learn to make God’s life-transforming Word relevant?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When and how did they determine that God actually needed them to rescue His Word that has never returned void in any century or culture in which it was heralded as the absolute truth and message of God?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. What is the measuring rod of success in relevance?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. How do they know that their approach is indeed working?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Do they determine their success because people seem to be listening and are continuing to attend services each week?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Do they assume effective relevance because people keep saying that they “sure do like this kind of preaching better than what I used to hear”?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Are these actions and comments the instruments of measure that God has given?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When Paul prayed for his churches with the following kind of prayer, was he actually thinking in terms of the daily life issues people face?

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”^^5^^

These questions and others race through my mind when these fliers end up in or on my mailbox. You see, here’s the deal for me. I have preached or spoken in a significant number of contemporary, blended, and traditional churches. I have spoken in churches where the ethnicity of the congregations were as blended as a Smoothie King^6^ smoothie. I have preached before congregations of hundreds of elderly members and those that were made up dominantly of “thirty-somethings.” In some environments I have proclaimed God’s truths in jeans, tennis shoes, a golf shirt, and a sports jacket. In others I have worn my most expensive business suit. In every case, regardless of church size, worship and dress style, or congregational make-up; the response and results have become predictable. People, who love Jesus, hunger for the truth of God’s life-transforming Word and respond accordingly to it! Period. And yes, even many of the un-churched or unconverted respond positively as well.

I preach solely from an expository perspective. I keep the people dominantly in one biblical passage, explain it’s meaning as creatively as I can, and leave the rest to Jesus. I have been told by countless investigators of the post-modern culture that expository preaching will not connect with that culture. I am sure that there are exceptions to my experience, but I have found that people from all ages, backgrounds, and cultures have had little trouble understanding what I say regarding God’s word from the pulpit. In fact, on many occasions, it’s been the pierced and tattooed “rebels” of the culture who have paid me the biggest (and most meaningful) compliment of “I have never heard the Bible presented that way. That was awesome.” Believe me they understand more than we think. And they are more impressed with the Word of God than the presentation I gave.

Throughout history cultures and peoples have changed, rebelled, adapted, not adapted, and so on. But the history of preaching reveals that whenever God’s Word has been proclaimed to those people groups that revival and spiritual renewal has been the result.^^7^^ Methodology in communication is valuable. It should be studied and certain aspects mastered. But for the preacher/teacher the message within our communication always has been far more valuable than the methodology of our communication.

Let me conclude this thought by sharing a hard truth. I share this truth continually with my students and in other environments in which I speak on the subject of biblical exposition. The hard truth is this: EXPOSITORY PREACHING/TEACHING IS NOT BORING, PREACHERS ARE!!! People of any age and culture can relate to expository preaching and teaching if it is presented creatively. This leads to the second unbreakable rule of preaching.

 

Be Unquestionably Interesting!

 

If you have been called of God to preach or teach His Word, I have some interesting news to share with you. Ready? Here it is. There’s now something wrong with you! What I mean is that you are no longer “normal.” Yes, you now view the Bible in a completely different way than many of the people who sit, or will sit, under your preaching and teaching. You and I tend to be unbelievably interested in some stuff in the Bible that the average church congregant could care absolutely nothing about. The problem, however, is that we tend to think that since we are so interested in this information, then the people of the church will find it fascinating as well.

I believe wholeheartedly that I have discovered the actual problem with preaching or teaching that doesn’t connect with the modern listener (let’s call it what it is; BORING!). The problem, again, is that there is something wrong with us. Allow me to illustrate: Most pastors and teachers of the Bible, when they find themselves in a text like Isaiah 6, tend to become fascinated with every aspect of the passage. The phrase, “In the year that King Uzziah died” becomes a year filled with fascination. So excited are they about that year that they study it ad nauseam. Then, because they are so excited about what they discovered about that fascinating year, they feel it is absolutely imperative to share their discoveries with their congregants. They honestly believe their congregants will be as excited as they are. But you must remember something very important for non-boring preaching and teaching: there’s something wrong with you! You are no longer normal!!!

To add insult to injury (continuing in Isaiah 6) these preacher/teachers then do an exhaustive study of the characteristics of the Seraphims and how they differ from the Cherabim and other angelic beings. And they do this as if the “normal” congregants actually care. So mesmerized are they when they are sharing this “life-altering?” information with their congregants, rarely do they bother to look up from their notes to notice the “deer in the headlights” expressions on the faces of the listeners.

The issue we must understand as it relates to being interesting is not dedication to topical preaching, but rather, challenging ourselves to be as creative as our spiritual DNA will allow. Make no mistake, background and contextual information is absolutely essential in sermon and Bible study preparation. However, how much of that information we bring into our messages can be the difference between an enlivened exposition and a boring, dull biblical lecture. Therefore, creativity in exposition is the key.

I will delve more into this later, but for now let me stress that the preacher/teacher should NEVER (or extremely rarely) open the message with comments related to the background and context. This vital information should be weaved in naturally, and even casually, into the introduction. We must first grasp the attention of our listeners in creative ways before we lead them into the actual exposition.

Chapter One

 

PREACHING ON PURPOSE: WHERE IT ALL STARTS

 

The Starting Point: Discovering the Purpose of Preaching

 

Every successful journey has an initial starting point. One simply does not “jump in” along the way. The knowledge of where one is going is important for any aspect of life. However again, I must acknowledge that for the preacher (even the lay Christian), it is not so much knowing where one is going in the sense of career goals, but more that one knows that he or she is going where God is leading. The idea for the preacher/teacher is to say and do what God has said. The simple knowledge that he is following the Lord is destination enough. More specifically, as it relates to preaching, the knowledge of where he is going in his preaching is central to his task. This leads to the questions, “What is the purpose of our preaching?” and “How is biblical preaching defined?”

In my second year of Master’s work the seminary brought on a young doctoral candidate who would teach pastoral ministry and preaching courses while he was finishing his Ph.D. studies. A friend and I both enrolled in his Work of the Pastor course. We assumed that an evening course led by a new doctoral candidate would be the easiest course in school history. So we eagerly enrolled.

On the first night of the course, however, he did something that no other seasoned professor had done. He opened the course without going over the syllabus from the opening bell (What a sacrilege!). Instead he called us to our knees as a class and asked us to trust the class to the Lord in prayer. He then opened his Bible and systematically took us through a passage from the 11th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. He entitled his mini-sermonette, The Yokes on You. As my friend and I listened to this honest and heartfelt exposition of the text, we choked back our tears. This was the kind of class we desired. This was the kind of message we longed to prepare! It seemed so easy for him. Why was it so hard for us to prepare such wonderful, meaningful, and God-honoring messages?

That evening my friend and I began to understand the purpose of preaching and the value of honest biblical exposition. We came to realize that it wasn’t about “getting up a sermon.” The purpose of preaching was to say what the original authors who had been inspired by the Holy Spirit had said in the original text, in a way that is meaningful and applicable to the contemporary listener, with the purpose of glorifying God. AND THERE IT IS: THE STARTING POINT OF TRUE GOD-HONORING BIBLICAL PREACHING IS COMING TO AN UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PREACHER’S PURPOSE IS THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS PURPOSES. That purpose was now ingrained in me. I understood, for the first time, that purposeful preaching was that preaching the Holy Spirit used to transform God’s people into the spiritual giants He desired that they be. I came to understand that all I had been doing was informing my congregants with some Christian principles and truths. The purpose, I discovered, is not so much meeting people’s practical needs or striving to answer every life question. Our task as preachers is to honor and glorify the heavenly Father through our preparation and preaching efforts. That evening Paul’s exhortation to “Preach the Word”^^8^^ took on a new meaning for us. Actually, it took on its original meaning. As my friend and I walked to our seminary apartments that evening we rejoiced in praise to Jesus. We prayed together and asked God to give us the ability to glorify His name and reveal His purposes in our preaching. What a glorious night is was!

 

How Biblical Preaching is Defined

 

Now to the second question: “How is biblical preaching defined?” Again, one of the aspects of virtually any book related to the subject of expository preaching is that the book usually contains the author’s definition of the subject.

When I entered doctoral studies my program chairman handed me a document that we called the Reading List. Well over 150 books were to be read over a two year period. All of the books were related to the subject of preaching. As I began to read through these volumes and tomes I started realizing that many of the authors merely were writing what others previously had written but within the parameters of their own writing style, passions, and creativity. (Solomon was right, there really is nothing new under the sun – it’s even true of preaching books). However, all of the authors added aspects and elements that aided the field of preaching. The reading list alone laid foundations of understanding that I hold and apply still to this day.

My chairman, Jim Shaddix (who just happened to be that young doctoral candidate of The Work of the Pastor class a couple of years earlier), told me that if I intended to be a teacher of preachers then I would have to develop my own definition of expository preaching.

I can remember scribbling countless ideas on legal sized sheets of paper that ultimately ended up in “file 13.” I needed something that was not only accurate to the true meaning of the task of exposition, but also expressed my convictions. Further, the definition needed to be something I could defend before my peers. After days of struggle, the following finally flowed from my pen.

 

Expository Preaching is: “The oral proclamation of a properly interpreted passage of Scripture, in the power of the Holy Spirit, by a God-called messenger, to an assembled body, for the glory of God and the accomplishment of His purposes.”

 

The definition resonated in my heart for a few reasons. First, it seemed to be a sufficient definition of the discipline. Second, it reflected my personality and convictions. Finally, I believed it was directed toward the Lord and His glory.

Chapter Two

 

THE HOMILETICAL BRIDGE

 

To understand the biblical world requires our best attempts at time travel. There exists a multiplicity of resources that allow the preacher/teacher to do such time travel and historical research. Thanks to modern technological advances, research materials readily are available and easily accessible. These resources exist in biblical software that contain study aids such as Bible Dictionaries, Biblical Commentaries, New and Old Testament Introductions, Word or Language Studies, archaeological works and other pertinent research materials. The internet also is a useful research source although there are many spurious sites to be aware of.^^9^^

Obviously the preacher/teacher also must understand the world that he and his listeners live in as well. In order to make solid and necessary application of the biblical text to contemporary life (the relevance idea) the preacher/teacher will need to be a student of his culture. I will make suggestions for accomplishing the task in a later chapter.

I was introduced to Stott and his teaching when I became a graduate assistant for Jim Shaddix.^^10^^ As I sat in on his classes in my capacity as fellow/grader I became more familiar with this valuable concept. Shaddix introduced his students to a powerful homiletical instrument called the Homiletical Bridge.^^11^^ The Homiletical Bridge serves as an excellent tool for getting the preacher/teacher across the bridge that divides the biblical and modern worlds. I have since taken that instrument and adapted it to fit my teaching style. In this and the next few chapters I will provide a detailed explanation of the aspects of the instrument. In my preaching classes I always stress to my students that the Homiletical Bridge, when properly utilized, will guarantee preaching and teaching in context, assist in making meaningful application, and help to reduce sermon preparation time.

Homiletical Bridge: Explanation and Overview

Book Context, Prior Context, and M.O.T.

 

The most important aspect of my introductory preaching course is the explanation of the Homiletical Bridge. If one can learn the principles and aspects of the Homiletical Bridge and utilize them, I am convinced it will revolutionize (and simplify) Bible study and sermon preparation techniques. It will also enhance general Bible knowledge and appreciation for biblical studies. The Homiletical Bridge also, as noted in the Introduction, will prove foundational to other approaches to biblical exposition.

The careful preacher is striving to preach and teach in biblical context – not using “guessegesis,” but accurate and informed exegesis to make a difference in the lives of people for the cause of Christ. The pastor/teacher’s heart is to strive to preach and teach the way the Bible was meant to be taught. This approach can and does make an impression upon the hearts and souls of those who listen to and benefit from it.

Book or Biblical Context

 

The first aspect of the Homiletical Bridge is coming to an understanding of the Book Context. Therefore, the first step to proper and purposeful exegesis is to study the background and contextual information related to the biblical book in which the selected text is found. This is what I call the historical, or the “then,” side of the bridge. On this side the preacher/teacher will study aspects such as authorship, date, recipients, occasion and purpose, literary genre (type of writing), setting and/or historical context, and place of writing.^^12^^

Not having such information leaves one guessing or running the risk of misrepresenting the passage. By understanding Book Context, when we read the following words from Paul, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Philippians 1: 12-14 NASB), we certainly can see the deeper value of his words. We can do so because we possess information as to why he was in prison and how that imprisonment was actually an encouragement to the church. Applying the verses becomes easier as well.

Many Christians rarely consider that their current circumstances can actually be used of God to further His kingdom’s work. Usually they pray for God to get them through the circumstances of life. But Paul implied here that our less-than-positive circumstances can be used for God’s purposes. The implication for the modern church then is: Stop praying for God to change or fix your circumstances, and start praying for Him to use you for His purposes in the circumstances. Our faithfulness during the circumstances of life will also strengthen others for greater service for God (see verse 14).

Too frequently the emphasis for preachers concerning Philippians 1:12-14 is along the lines of: The gospel must be proclaimed in spite of circumstances we face in life. This is indeed absolutely true. This interpretation, however, is too shallow and the preacher needs to conduct no exegetical work to draw such a conclusion. Such an interpretation is the result of “guessegesis.” Much guessegetical work reveals certain truth. However, it tends to only touch the surface of the text and often misses the actual or deeper implications of the text. So, in the case of Philippians 1:12-14 the average pew-sitter (“chair”-sitter for contemporary church folks) may nod in affirmation about the value of such a truth, but likely will not be able to see the implications for him or herself simply because they do not view themselves as preachers. If, however, the preacher/teacher reminds the listeners, as Paul was doing in this case, that they as believers have a place in God’s kingdom work (whether it be preaching, teaching, serving, or whatever) then they will have a greater possibility of seeing the value of the text for their lives. Paul actually was commending the Philippians because of the work they had been doing. So he merely was encouraging them to keep on doing so in spite of their tendency to be discouraged because he was in prison (their circumstance was getting the focus). All of this is deduced by understanding who the writer and people were, what circumstances led to the writing of the letter, and other like matters related to the Book Context.

Prior and Immediate Context

 

Every part and paragraph of a biblical passage is related to the rest of that book. Immediate context is the relationship previous chapters and verses have with the selected passage. Frequently the verses and passages following the selected text provide immediate insights as well. These immediate verses and sections must be understood in order to ensure accurate understanding and application of the selected passage. Shaddix stated: “ … give close attention to the connection of your passage with the immediate context. No member or part of an organism, however minute, can be explained adequately apart from its relation to the whole. Even so, every paragraph of Scripture has a connection with its totality. … Never lift a paragraph or individual verses from their contextual setting. A paragraph must be studied in relation to the thought that runs through an entire section.”^^13^^

 

M. O. T. – The Major Objective of the Text

 

The M. O. T. is the major thrust of the passage. The preacher/teacher simply and honestly asks the question, “Is this an evangelistic passage OR is it primarily a passage given for church instruction and edification (“Christian Life” as I call it). Indeed there are passages that are written with a church-edifying purpose but also contain evangelistic overtones. However, the honest preacher/teacher recognizes that few Bible verses actually were written with both in mind. All of the Epistles, for example, were written exclusively to the church (even though evangelistic verses exist in them). The opening verses make this undeniably clear. Evangelistic passages are not so obvious. The preacher/teacher will strive to discern the original intent of the passage.

The question is often raised, “How does one determine the M. O. T.?” The answer is somewhat varied. In some cases it is blaringly obvious as in the case of the Epistles. On other occasions the preacher/teacher will sense it from illuminated reflection. Other passages may require some assistance from theological study resources such as commentaries. Practice, patience, and eventually skill will help the less experienced preacher/teacher develop in the process of determining the M.O. T. of selected passages.

One may ask, “So, why do I need to know the M. O. T of a passage?” The answer is simple and obvious. Knowing the objective of the passage (to edify the church or to evangelize the lost) guides the preacher/teacher in the process of demonstrating the practical relevance of the passage to the audience. In other words, application is easier to discern. With all the discussion in contemporary preaching circles with regard to “relevance,” determining the M. O. T. becomes exorbitantly important.

 

C.I.T. and THESIS

 

C. I. T. (Central Idea of the Text)

 

Although many theological truths can be uncovered in the process of exegesis, each passage typically has one discernable dominant idea (central idea). The original author usually had one central truth in mind for the intended audience. Therefore, the preacher will attempt to uncover the C. I. T. during his exegetical efforts.

 

Defining the C. I. T.

 

Al Fasol defined the C. I. T. as “a fifteen to eighteen word (maximum) past-tense statement interpreting what the text meant then. … the C. I. T. is an interpretive statement written in the past tense and specified to fifteen to eighteen words because that is a good length for a simple declarative sentence.”^^14^^ While I concur that the C. I. T. must be stated in the past-tense because we are studying the passage to determine what the emphasis of the passage was for “then,” I have never seen the necessity of the 15 to 18 word limit. Fasol thought that a limited C. I. T. would keep it simple. I agree, but I have discovered that so long as the statement is past tense and accurately represents what the text meant “then,” then sentence length is really secondary. I would rather focus more on getting the proper and accurate interpretation right, rather than struggling to limit the sentence to 15 to 18 words.

I have seen short C. I. T. statements such as “Paul was stressing the value of understanding the aspects of the pastoral office.” I have also seen statements that were significantly longer such as, “Jesus, upon entering His home country, found the devastating reality of unbelief reflected in the attitudes of those who supposedly were people of God.” Each of these examples serves as acceptable examples of a C. I. T. statement. Of course the first example could be lengthened and the second could be shortened, but this is a minor matter. The bottom line is this, since the C. I. T. is for the benefit of the exegete (and usually not stated in the actual sermon), then as long as the exegete has a firm and accurate understanding of the text’s meaning, then this is all that really matters.

 

The Significance of the C. I. T.

 

I firmly believe that determining the C. I. T. is the most important part of the exegetical work, while developing the proposition is the most important part of the homiletical work. The reason is because if we err in understanding the Holy Spirit-inspired intended meaning and conclude an inaccurate contextual meaning, then everything we say in the message will likely be spurious. However, if we accurately discover the intended meaning and focus, then as we create and construct a message based upon that truth, we are more assured of accuracy in exposition and delivery.

Shaddix and Vines noted three reasons why preachers tend to avoid the necessary work of writing a C. I. T. statement. First, stating the C. I. T. (main subject)^^15^^ of the passage may be the most difficult area of sermon preparation. Conducting the necessary word studies, plowing through the background research, and analyzing the contextual data, however, is not necessarily difficult. The difficulty lies in trying to synthesize the discovered information to one concise statement.

Second, many pastors (if not most) are quite busy. Preparing and preaching several messages a week is a daunting task when all other ministerial and family responsibilities are vying for a preacher’s time. Just clearing the mind enough to search for the C. I. T. can be quite a challenge.

Third, there is the issue of laziness. Regrettably there exist a healthy number of preachers who are simply slothful and refuse to conduct the necessary work of identifying the subject of the selected passage. Such men should do the church a favor and turn to the secular arena for their employment. Preaching before God’s church is a calling, contains a mandate (“preach the word”), and should be considered a great honor by those who stand before God’s church week in and week out. Any other attitude is a disgrace.^^16^^

 

Where to Find the C. I. T.

 

Perhaps the most frequently asked question in my introductory preaching class is, “How do I find the C. I. T.?” There are a few ways to narrow in on this oft-illusive element. Sometimes the C. I. T. is blaringly obvious from a general reading of the selected text. I have often asked my students to state the C. I. T. of Philippians 2: 5-11. In the overwhelming majority of cases the students agree that Paul was stressing that Jesus exemplified selfless humility in order to accomplish the purposes of His heavenly Father. A few other students, the vast minority, will state that the C. I. T. in terms of the exaltation of Christ. I explain that although an important aspect of the text, a message is difficult to build upon the idea of exaltation because the text only notes that God indeed exalted Jesus but says nothing more.

A true C. I. T. is one in which the idea can be developed into teaching/preaching points. The probing question (to be addressed later) helps the preacher determine if the chosen C. I. T. is accurate. So, if we were to ask the following probing question, “What does this text specifically tell me about the humility of Jesus?,” we would be able to see a few ideas emerge:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility to mimic (5)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility that was selfless (6-7)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility built upon obedience (8)

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p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility acknowledged by God (9 – 11)

 

The ideas noted above are not the preaching/teaching outline although they will certainly lead to it. They are merely the ideas and/or truths that clearly answer the probing question. Once these ideas are deduced then the preacher can determine if any of the ideas should or could be merged together or even expanded. This is where individuality and spiritual DNA come into play. I may break the verses down into three points whereas another may use five or six. As long as the contextual truth of the C. I. T. remains the same, then the thrust of the message, regardless of the number of points, remains constant.

 

Thesis

 

Connecting the message to the contemporary audience (the application/relevance issue) has been a matter of debate and discussion among homileticians and preaching theorists for decades. In fact, so intense was the discussion in the late 1990s that I decided to do my doctoral research on the subject of application in contemporary preaching. While many ideas about application and relevance have been batted around the preaching arena, one truth remains certain, most preachers desire to connect the ancient text and its meaning to the modern listener in such a way that makes a difference in their Christian lives. The thesis, properly utilized will assist the preacher in making that desired connection. The thesis is the vehicle that moves the preacher from the “then” (exegetical) side of the study to the “now” (application) side.

 

Defining the Thesis

 

Fasol defined the thesis as a fifteen to eighteen word (maximum) present-tense application of the C. I. T. He noted that the creation of a thesis statement is a critical step in interpretation. Preachers should understand that it is never enough to know what the text meant “then.” He also must know how to relate the truths and implications of the ancient text to the “now.”^^17^^ While I agree with Fasol about the thrust and purpose thesis, I hold the same respectful disagreement concerning the number of words contained in it. Again this is, in my estimation, better left up to the individual preacher and his spiritual DNA.

I constantly tell my students that when we receive the call to become preachers, some type of metamorphosis happens to us. Again, when the average individual responds to the call to preach he actually begins to transform into quite a studious preacher. This means he loves the study of the Bible. This is a good thing. But because he loves the study of the Bible so much, he tends to over-study when it comes to sermon preparation. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not arguing for lesser study. I simply am noting that when the excited preacher delves into the historical and background information he discovers many fascinating facts, tidbits, and truths that he sincerely believes has a place in his message. In his mind he believes that if he does not reveal these truths in the spoken message he is doing an injustice to the “whole counsel of God.” I call this “spiritualizing a ridiculous notion.”

The problem with this approach, in spite of how much the preacher loves the information, is that the typical church-attender is not as fascinated with the biblical data as the exegete tends to be. In fact, many could not care less about all the cool stuff the preacher found in his study. As previously noted, the preacher may be fascinated with all the facts related to the “year that King Uzziah died” but that is a joy likely he should keep to himself. I am often amazed at the level a preacher will disagree with me on this point. The evidence, however, proves my point.

Many, if not most, Christian people love the Bible. They simply love it in different ways and for different reasons than the typical preacher does. Typical congregants want to hear meaningful messages, in language and verbiage they understand, and that touch some practical or spiritual need in their lives. The wise preacher knows this and is committed to doing all he can to relate the implications of the selected text to the perceived or real needs of his listeners. The thesis is the place to begin to make that connection. It is simply a present-tense statement of how the C. I. T. relates to the modern listener.

 

C. I. T.: Paul was stressing that Jesus exemplified selfless humility in order to accomplish the purposes of His Heavenly Father. (Philippians 2: 5-11)

 

Thesis: We should exemplify the same selfless humility that Jesus did so that we can accomplish the purposes of our Heavenly Father.

 

The good news is that when his thesis is based on a solid and accurate understanding of the C. I. T. then the deep emphasis of the passage is provided for the listener. The preacher does not have to live in fear of “watering down” the message simply to make application to the listener’s present needs. Therefore the preacher enjoys the best of both worlds in the preaching event. He has done his exegetical homework and knows his text thoroughly. He also knows that he can apply the emphasis of the text to the contemporary listener. The great news is that over time the listeners will become conditioned to the deeper implications of the Word of God for their lives and actually will hunger for them. Many, if not most, will no longer be satisfied with the “daily needs” approach to preaching.

Going deeper does provide its challenges for the preacher. Exegetical struggles can exist for making the connection of the C. I. T. to the modern audience. One is that sometimes the selected text related primarily to the context of the ancient audience and seemingly is irrelevant to the modern listener. When this is the case the preacher must conduct some deeper exegetical work in order to show the validity of the ancient text to the modern Christian. Getting into theological commentaries and other study aids will be absolutely necessary if the goal is to be reached. Oftentimes these sources reveal why an ancient law, for example, was written. Many of the laws of the book of Leviticus, taken literally, seemingly have no value for the modern Christian. But when the preacher discovers the underlying principle as to why a certain law was recorded, then the possibility of a connection can be realized.

 

PROPOSITIONS and PROBING QUESTIONS

 

A proposition, in the arena of preaching, is simply what the preacher hopes the listener will do as a result of hearing his biblical exhortation. In the message he is “proposing” that the listener take certain actions, change certain attitudes, or make certain spiritually-motivated decisions. Many preaching theorists have espoused the importance and necessity of using a proposition in sermon preparation and delivery. I will be no different. In this chapter I will discuss the definition and significance of the proposition along with another aspect of the homiletical bridge known as the probing question.

 

Defining the Proposition

 

As noted in an earlier chapter, the C. I. T. is the most important element in exegetical work, but the proposition is the most important aspect of the delivered sermon. Some preaching theorists refer to the proposition as the M. O. S. or the Major Objective of the Sermon. The term M. O. S. is excellent because it is so clear. The preacher/teacher should have one dominant action or response goal (objective) that he is conveying in the message. Teaching or preaching outline points will be designed to support the proposition or the M. O. S.

Haddon Robinson referred to the proposition as the purpose of the sermon. He stated: “The purpose states what one expects to happen in the hearer as a result of preaching this sermon.”^^18^^ Shaddix and Vines equated the proposition to a refrain in a song. They noted that, “When a songwriter writes a song, he or she usually works out the refrain before writing the different verses that accompany the refrain. All the verses, then, support and develop that refrain. … The proposition becomes the refrain of your message.”^^19^^ This analogy is actually excellent because a chorus or refrain would make no sense if the verses are not related to those verses and vice versa. The proposition is, to a large degree, the hook or the heart of the sermon and the application of the sermon would be difficult to discern unless a clear proposition is provided.

The Significance of the Proposition

 

The proposition is a homiletical device that allows the preacher to limit the amount of information he brings into the message. Everything that can be said about a passage of Scripture simply should not be presented to the listeners. That’s right! Everything that can be said simply should not be said in the message. As noted earlier there is something different about God-called preacher types that set them apart from typical congregants. While the desire to “feed the sheep” is admirable and biblical; over-teaching/preaching a passage can lead to confusion in the listener’s mind. And confusion always leads to boredom. The listener simply tunes the preacher out. Therefore, except in isolated cases when it is utilized to provide clarity, the preacher should bring into his message only those things that directly relate to his proposition.

I have labeled this aspect of my approach to sermon preparation sermonic stinginess. As children we were taught to share our toys with others. This is a wonderful instruction from parents and/or guardians to children. When it comes to sermon preparation and delivery, however, being stingy is actually a good thing. Preachers should keep much of the biblical information they discover via their exegetical research to themselves and save it for another teaching or preaching situation. The simple principle is as follows: Within the sermon state or proclaim only that biblical information that directly or indirectly supports, highlights or explains the proposition. When the preacher adds anything else he runs the risk of boring the listeners, confusing them with information over-kill, or transforming God’s message into an academic biblical lecture.

Whenever I teach the principle of sermonic stinginess in my classes there are always a few objections from some of students. The most frequent objection is: “But what about the biblical mandate to preach the ‘whole counsel of God.’” I address the concern from two perspectives. First, a good way to handle this concern is by examining the preaching of Jesus. One of Jesus’ favorite means of connecting with His listeners was to tell stories and parables. He rarely, if ever, pulled an abundance of historical background information into His messages. The Lord rarely quoted from the Old Testament but when He did the connection clearly could be seen and understood by his listeners. It was not just additional biblical material. It had a propositional purpose.

Second, I ask; “Where did the notion that providing tons of historical background and other exegetical information is preaching the whole counsel of God originate?” The Bible does not seem to support the notion in any sense. Indeed the preacher should strive to be contextually accurate. He can set up the proposition with some well-chosen historical background matters weaved creatively into his introductory statements. But to insist that bringing as much biblical and contextual information into the message is more Bible-glorifying simply is not tenable in my estimation. Again, listeners can only receive a certain amount of information in a single sitting. It makes more sense to relate most of that information to the sermonic proposition than to bog listeners down with details and facts that are more informative than transformative.

 

Sermonic Stinginess

 

What we DO want in the message!

 

*
p={color:#000;}. Only that which amplifies or solidifies what we are proposing

*
p={color:#000;}. The goal is to limit the explanation to the “pastoral” heart

*
p={color:#000;}. Too much explanation can be boring or over the heads and hearts of the audience

*
p={color:#000;}. An ample and applicational treatment of the text

 

What we DO NOT want in the Message!

 

*
p={color:#000;}. Unnecessary Information

*
p={color:#000;}. A scholastic approach

*
p={color:#000;}. Too much “geeky” greeky

*
p={color:#000;}. Too much boring background

*
p={color:#000;}. Seminary terminology

 

Although there are always a few initial objections to my principle of sermonic stinginess, most students appreciate the concept because it takes the pressure from trying to weave so much historical and biblical information into the message off of them. Most preachers want to get on with sharing with their listeners the life-transforming applicational information they have deduced from their study of the selected passage.

So, if the above argument has any merit, then what are the significant factors that add value to this oft-ignored homiletical device? First, a clearly established proposition statement provides the purpose and helps to convey the relevance of the message to the listeners. A preacher would do well to remember that he must “earn the right” to preach his message. Listeners are under no mandated law to attend church services or to listen to Bible messages. They have the choice to attend nowhere or they can choose another place to worship. Indeed church-attendees (especially truly born-again believers) should hunger for worship and the proclamation of the word of God, but that does not mean they must sit through a message that is more historically and exegetically detailed than spiritually viable to their lives. The preacher needs to draw the listeners in to the message early, indeed, very early. This means that he will strive to harness the attention and interest of the listeners within the first 2 to 3 minutes. He will do this by opening, not with biblical contextual information, but with a creative story or statements designed to engage the interest of the listeners. This is rarely accomplished with historical biblical information which is, of course, the interest of many preachers. He should think in terms of their interests (as it relates to harnessing attention) rather than his own. (Later I will have much to say about the three aspects of communication and I will develop this idea further).

Preachers and teachers should remember that listeners often ask the question, “What does this message have to do with me?” In their day-to-day worlds people can find information related to almost anything that interests them by merely “Googling” it. Individuals are interested in a number of different things. Therefore, it is imperative that the preacher demonstrate the practicality, viability, and yes, relevancy of the text early in the message. The preacher/teacher who understands this reality will do much better in connecting with his listeners (as it relates to the propositional aspect). If he does not make this connection, the listener will think things like, “If I were really interested in this, which I’m not, I could just go online and find whatever I want to know about it.” This concept of the individuality of the individual must not be minimized by the one bringing the message.

When the preacher/teacher recognizes that his goal is to reveal the purpose of the message by showing the relevance to the contemporary audience he then has a measuring rod for the message. He simply can ask himself; “Is the way I am stating this message focused dominantly on revealing and supporting the proposition?” “Am I spending too much time and energy in over-explaining historical or contextual aspects of the text?” “Will the average listener be able to discern and understand what I am suggesting they do in response to the message?” Asking questions like these will aid in verifying if the message is appropriately balanced with just enough historical/contextual/biblical information to clarify why the text was originally written and if the message has a propositional purpose that people will desire to acknowledge and accept.

Second, a clearly established proposition statement provides direction in the development of the message. What I really mean is that it simplifies the homiletical process. I have discovered that, regardless of the project, if I know the direction I need to go or to work, the project is much easier to complete. In fact, it becomes much more enjoyable and far less burdensome.

 

Many pastors build sermons that are functional but the messages only do part of the job. They convey biblical truth and get the preacher through another Sunday. But many of these sermons do not possess what makes a message something to behold and meaningful to the listeners. The aesthetic quality of a good, meaningful, and life-altering message is found in an effective proposition. The proposition is the art work of the sermon. It is what causes the listener to want to listen to the message. The preacher has told the listener what he wants them to receive or understand as a result of listening. As the preacher relates every aspect of his message to the proposition, the listener knows why he or she is in attendance and is focused on the message.

 

The Benefits of the Proposition

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Honestly reflects the applicational emphasis of the selected text

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Changes the preacher’s purpose in preaching from conveying biblical information to sharing life-transforming biblical concepts

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Keeps the preacher on track by allowing him to know why he is preaching the message

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Insures the relevance or applicational aspects of the message

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Satisfies the listener’s need for messages to relate directly to their lives

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Allows for creativity and flexibility in the preaching event

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Simplifies sermon preparation as the preacher only studies material related to the proposition rather than everything and anything in the selected passage.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Builds the confidence of the preacher because he knows he is delivering a message that directly relates to people’s lives

 

The Probing Question

 

Once the preacher is satisfied with his proposition he is now ready to begin to develop the preaching outline. The creation of an effective and meaningful outline is quite easy once the preacher understands how to use a homiletical device known as the probing question. Quiet simply the probing question is a question the preacher asks, not of himself or his audience, but of the biblical text he is investigating. He is probing the text for information. He asks this question in order to verify the accuracy of his C. I. T. because if the C. I. T. is inaccurate, everything the preacher says in the message will be out of line with the intended truths present in the selected passage, including the proposition. The probing question is the before-we-go-any-further-let’s-do–some-verification question.

I have read in homiletical books that a good probing type question can be a what, why, where, when, and how question. I agree that this is indeed an effective approach. But I discovered that there is an easier way to ask a probing question of the text. All the preacher must do is ask the question in the following manner:

 

What is this passage specifically telling me about (insert proposition) … ?

 

Let’s return to a previous example from Philippians 2:5-11

 

C. I. T.: Paul was stressing that Jesus exemplified selfless humility in order to accomplish the purposes of His Heavenly Father. (Philippians 2: 5-11)

 

Thesis: We should exemplify the same selfless humility that Jesus did so that we can accomplish the purposes of our Heavenly Father.

 

Proposition: I want my hearers to exemplify selfless humility in order make their personal contributions to the purposes of our Heavenly Father. (note: everything the preacher shares in the sermon will be related to the concept of commitment to selfless humility)

 

Before the preacher goes any further in the preparation of the sermon he must first verify the accuracy of the C. I. T. by asking Philippians 2: 5-11 a specific question. The example above would require the following probing question:

 

What is Philippians 2:5-11 specifically telling me about exemplifying selfless humility in order to accomplish the heavenly Father’s purposes?

 

This question simplifies the process and cuts directly to the heart of the C. I. T. Now all the preacher has to do is see if the text actually answers the question. If the passage is indeed about selfless humility then certain things will be stated in the passage regarding it. As noted in the previous chapter we determined that several things are revealed about humility:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility to mimic (5)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility that was selfless (6-7)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility built upon obedience (8)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was a humility acknowledged by God (9 – 11)

 

As noted in a previous chapter this outline will likely not be the preaching outline primarily because our probing question was specifically based upon selfless humility. The outline above is more general to the subject of humility. Therefore, point 2 may merge with point 1 and will now utilize verses 5-7 as supporting verses. In any case the C. I. T. is verified because the passage does specifically address selfless humility to the point that a workable outline can be developed. Keep in mind that if an outline based upon the C. I. T. and proposition cannot be developed then the preacher must reconsider his C. I. T. In order for the sermon to be true biblical exposition the preaching points must be honest with what the text conveys. Outline points must never be based upon what the preacher personally desires to say. Liberties must never be taken with God’s sacred text. The beauty of the homiletical bridge is that it guarantees that the preacher remains honest with the truths of the text and he is insured to preach the passage in its original context.

 

C. I. T.: Paul was stressing that Jesus exemplified selfless humility in order to accomplish the purposes of His Heavenly Father. (Philippians 2: 5-11)

 

Thesis: We should exemplify the same selfless humility that Jesus did so that we can accomplish the purposes of our Heavenly Father

 

Proposition: I want my hearers to exemplify selfless humility in order make their personal contributions to the purposes of our Heavenly Father.

 

Probing Question: What is Philippians 2:5-11 specifically telling me about exemplifying selfless humility in order to accomplish the heavenly Father’s purposes?

 

OUTLINE UNIFIERS, TRANSITIONAL SENTENCES, and OUTLINES

 

Plural Outline Unifiers

 

The plural outline unifier is referred to by some homileticians as the key word or the unifying word. This homiletical device is the one word answer to the probing question addressed in the previous chapter. Its primary purpose is to unify the sermon points (or main divisions) in the outline. Harold Bryson and James Taylor observed that the unifying word is one of the most helpful homiletical devices in sermon construction. They noted that “the unifying word ties together each main division, thus it guarantees unity” (italics added).^^20^^ Wayne McDill stated that “the Key Word is a plural, abstract noun that classifies or delineates the character of the division statements (or outline points –added by author) of the sermon. … The Key Word helps build a strong framework for the body of the sermon since all division statements must then conform to it.”^^21^^ This unity of the outline points almost is as important as unity in God’s church because the practice aids in effective communication of the preacher’s proposition.

The easiest way to explain the plural outline unifier is as follows: This one plural word describes or defines each sermon point. In other words, each point will be identified within a set of items classified as principles, advantages, certainties, changes, disciplines, evidences, evils, faults, steps, ways, and so on.^^22^^ So let’s assume that our plural unifier is ways. This means that each sermon point will be written as a “way.” Note the following example:

 

Plural Outline Unifier: ways

 

Transitional Sentence: Let’s consider two “ways” on can draw closer to God.

 

Outline:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. One can draw closer to God by relentlessly and daily feasting on the meat of the Word.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. One can draw closer to God by rigorously and dutifully sharing the message of the Word.

 

Notice how each outline point is stated as a “way” to draw close to God.

 

The example above is fictitious and not based on a particular biblical passage. It serves, however, to make the point that each sermon point should be unified. Allow me to clarify. Many times preachers will put together outlines that resemble the following:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Christians should always pray

#
p<>{color:#000;}. God loves us

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Commit to Bible Study

 

While this example is a bit extreme it does serve to make the point (and I have seen many outlines that resemble the example, even from experienced pastors). But notice how point 1 (I) is stated as something Christians should do. In other words it is stated as a directive. Point 2 (II), however, is stated is a general truth (something Christians should know). Finally, point 3 (III) is stated as either a step or a directive, but is unclear. This is an example of a disjointed and non-unified outline. This is why determining the plural outline unifier is so important.

It is important that one understand that the plural unifier is (1) not a word found in the biblical text. And (2) it is not a one-word summary of the text. The unifier is a word created by the preacher as he examines the passage in an attempt to answer the probing question. Following is an example based upon Mark 1:1-8:

 

Probing Question: What does this narrative specifically reveal for the modern Christian about being an effective servant for the purposes of God?

 

Unifying Word (Plural Unifier): Aspects

 

Notice that the word “aspects” is not found in Mark 1:1-8. When one examines the passage many spiritual elements can be seen (fulfilled prophecy, repentance and baptism, Holy Spirit power, etc.). It is important to note, however, that although these elements are mentioned, they are not developed as themes of the passage. The “guessegetical” preacher will leap on one of these elements and attempt to develop a sermon on whichever he selected. But since the passage itself does not say anything specific about fulfilled prophecy or baptism, he must bounce out of Mark 1:1-8 in order to find other passages that actually develop the selected theme. He is now developing a topical message.

If, however, the preacher wants to be purely exegetical/expositional then he will remain in the passage and develop the theme provided by the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that he will not mention these noted spiritual elements, but he will mention them as the Holy Spirit-intended supportive material. Expository preaching typically covers all of the selected passage rather than focusing on one aspect.

Since John the Baptist is the star of the passage, then it is easy to see two aspects he possessed that made his ministry effective and significant.

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. His ministry was connected to God’s power (1-5)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. His ministry was complimented with humility (6-8)

 

As with previous examples, this is not the complete preaching outline but merely brief statements (aspects) of the ministry of John the Baptist.

Now let’s see how all of the other spiritual elements can be included.

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. His ministry was connected to God’s power (1-5)

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was grounded in God’s authority (vs. 2-3 “fulfilled prophecy”)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It was founded on a biblical premise (vs. 4 “baptism and repentance)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. It resounded in the hearts of men (vs. 5 “people responded”)

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. His ministry was complimented with humility (6-8)

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. his personal deportment (6 “humility”)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. his selfless recognition (7-8 “the work of the Holy Spirit)

 

Notice how the plural unifier clearly and completely answers the Probing Question of What does this narrative specifically reveal for the modern Christian about being an effective servant for the purposes of God? Since the C.I.T., Thesis, and Proposition have being effective in ministry as the dominate theme then the Probing Question will ask Mark 1:1-8 what is shares about that theme. As we have noted, it reveals two “aspects” or “traits” of effective ministry.

 

Mark 1:1-8

 

Book Context: The Book of Mark was written to prove that Jesus Christ was and is the Messiah. In a dramatic and action-packed sequence of events, Mark paints a striking image of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Mark illustrates who Jesus is as a person. The ministry of Jesus is revealed with vivid detail and the messages of his teaching are presented more through what he did than what he said. The Gospel of Mark reveals Jesus the Servant.

 

Prior Context: None since this is the first narrative

 

Immediate Context: The ministry of the Lord Jesus is being introduced with a brief explanation of John the Baptist’s calling and effective ministry.

 

M.O.T.: Christian Instruction

 

C. I. T.: Mark was letting his readers see the impact of the ministry of a God-called and appointed servant in order to demonstrate his (John the Baptist’s) effectiveness in ministry

 

Thesis: The modern Christian should recognize that God desires to use each of us in effective ways for His purposes as He used John the Baptist

 

Proposition: I want my listens to understand that the modern Christian should recognize that God desires to use each of us in effective ways for His purposes as He used John the Baptist

 

Probing Question: What does this narrative specifically reveal for the modern Christian about being an effective servant for the purposes of God?

 

Unifying Word (Plural Unifier): Aspects

 

Transitional Sentence: “Let’s consider two specific aspects of effective ministry, that John possessed, that allows us to be an effective servant for the glory of God.”

 

Outline:

 

I. An Effective/Significant ministry is connected to the awesome power of God (1-5)

II. An Effective/Significant Ministry is complimented with heart-felt humility (6-8)

 

NOTICE HOW EACH OF THESE OUTLINE POINTS ARE STATED AS “ASPECTS”

 

Transitional Sentences

 

The transitional sentence is simply a sentence that typically is located between the Introduction and the first sermon point. It is a sentence that allows the preacher or Bible study teacher to transition from introductory matters into the main body (or outline). The plural unifier always will be included in the transitional sentence because it prepares the listener for the specific application of the selected text to his or her Christian life.

Again, using the example of Mark 1:1-8, the following will be the transitional sentence.

 

“Let’s consider two specific aspects of effective ministry, that John possessed, that allows us to be an effective servant for the glory of God.”

 

Notice how the preacher is speaking to the listener about the specific subject of effectiveness in ministry. In so doing he is relating the text and its implications directly and relevantly to their lives. By allowing the text to speak naturally, and in the Holy Spirit-intended way, the issue of relevance is settled. The preacher is not on a wild hunt to “make the Bible relevant” because the biblical text is revealing how it already is relevant.

 

Life-Application Outlines

 

Whenever I discuss sermon outlining with my students there is almost always a need to do a little de-programming of their thinking. This is because the typical preacher thinks like a preacher when it comes to outlining, rather than thinking like the listener as he should (I will discuss the 3 aspects of communication in a later chapter and develop this idea further).

 

Commentary Usage

 

It is a VERY good habit to complete the Homiletical Bridge BEFORE opening Bible commentaries because preachers tend to be so influenced by them. I am not saying that one should not use commentaries. However, I will suggest a different way of using them from the typical method, at least as far as using them for sermon construction is concerned. Many commentaries break biblical passages down into units of thought. Oftentimes these units are labeled with something which can look like a workable outline point. Whenever the preacher uses them, or changes them to reflect his personality, they come off resembling what I call “preacher’s outlines.” Often they appear similar to the following:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The Premise

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The Promise

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The Principle

 

While the preacher knows quite well what these points mean, they are among the reasons many modern listeners say that preachers are out of touch with them. This approach to outlining can be quite boring and meaningless to the typical listener.

Commentaries, even homiletical commentaries, should not be regularly used to aid in the development of the preaching or teaching outline. Although the commentary may aid the preacher in seeing the natural divisions of the text, the preacher should resist the urge to label his preaching points as the commentator has done. Therefore, it is my strong opinion that commentaries should not be used for structuring the sermon. They should be used to provide additional exegetical information or to verify exegetical conclusions and/or enhance hermeneutics and interpretation.

 

User-Friendly Outlines

 

A good rule of thumb is to create and develop outline points that the listener can understand if all he or she had was a Bible and the written outline. As he or she reads the passage and observes the sermon points it should be obvious how the selected text dramatically relates to his or her Christian journey. The outline should not merely inform the reader of a “premise” or a “promise” but rather help them to do some soul-searching that may lead to a transformed life.

Example from Psalm 71:1-6

 

The Psalmist demonstrates that …

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. We can express an uncompromising trust in God (1-2)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. We can focus on the unchanging stability of God (3)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. We can rely upon our unhindered requests of God (4-6)

 

Back to the Proposition and Probing Question

 

Effective and meaningful outline points will support the proposition and answer the probing question. Going back to the example of Mark 1:1-8 notice the following:

 

Proposition: I want my listens to understand that the modern Christian should recognize that God desires to use each of us in effective ways for His purposes as He used John the Baptist.

 

Probing Question: What does this narrative specifically reveal for the modern Christian about being an effective servant for the purposes of God?

 

Notice how the following outline supports the proposition and answers the Probing Question:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. An Effective/Significant ministry is connected to the awesome power of God (1-5)

 

2. An Effective/Significant Ministry is complimented with heart-felt humility

(6-8)

 

This proposition reveals the preacher’s desire that his listeners have an effective ministry. The outline above relates directly to that desire as it suggests two aspects of effectiveness in ministry. More obviously, however, is that the outline answers, quite specifically, the probing question. The outline reveals two aspects of effectiveness in ministry. This standard of supporting the proposition and answering the probing question should never be compromised.

Notice the following example from Philippians 4:4-7:

 

Proposition: I want my hearers to consider the seriousness of our citizenship and therefore learn to live peaceably in order to protect our testimony.

 

Probing Question: “What does this passage specifically reveal about Christians avoiding bickering with each other?”

 

Plural Outline Unifier: Directives

 

I. Decide to Remain Happy in the Lord (vs. 4)

II. Display a Right Attitude for the Lord (vs. 5)

III. Discuss your Real Concerns with the Lord (vss. 6-7)

 

Again, notice how the outline supports the proposition and answers the probing question. And for emphasis, notice how these points come from the selected text and not elsewhere in the Bible.

When it comes to outlining, as Hamilton noted, never, Never, NEVER use the phraseology of the biblical passage as the outline. For example, in the above passage from Philippians the outline is not:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Rejoice Always (vs. 4)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known (vs. 5)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Be Anxious for Nothing (vss. 6-7)

 

The reason to avoid this approach is quite obvious. By using the phraseology of the passage we are doing nothing more than reading what the text says to our listeners. If they can read then they simply will not need you. But by phrasing the points with the direct application approach, then you have the opportunity to demonstrate for them even deeper implications of the text to their lives.

Looking at Philippians 4:1-7 one will observe several references to the idea of being “in the Lord” (vs. 1, 2, 4, and 7). Therefore the prudent preacher will want this idea conveyed as both a reminder of a Christian’s position and as a method for avoiding bickering. So, the Christian is instructed in point 1 (I) to “decide to remain happy IN the Lord.” This carries so much more weight than the mere exhortation to “rejoice always.” The Christian is encouraged to make a daily decision to represent Christ joyously because of his or her position with the Lord. Going further, the idea of “displaying the right attitude FOR the Lord” carries with it a far deeper meaning and implication than merely letting a gentle spirit be known. And lastly, the idea of “discussing our real concerns WITH the Lord” is more meaningful than the idea of being anxious for nothing. When one is embittered toward a brother he should not bicker with him, but rather speak to the Lord in an attitude of petition and thanksgiving on behalf of that brother. In so doing the Lord will remind the Christian that He loves the very person the praying Christian is angry toward.

One of the goals of outlining is to convey the deeper implications of the text by showing the listeners what they typically cannot see for themselves with a general reading of the text. Too often preachers merely remind congregants of what they already know or what they can see for themselves as they read the selected text. Therefore, the prudent preacher will delve deep into the text and draw out (exegesis) the Spirit-intended implications. He will want to touch the emotions, psyche, and spirit of the listener with what he discovered while studying the passage. This is accomplished much more effectively with well-thought out and well-considered life-application outline points.

 

Chapter Three

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: THE PARTS OF THE SERMON

 

Once the Homiletical Bridge has been developed the rest of the process of sermon construction, unlike putting together toys at Christmas, is quite stress free. There are no detailed instructions to follow. There is nothing significantly challenging. It really is nothing more than putting the pieces together in a way that accomplishes the propositional objective you have in mind. Once all the parts are in place, the preacher is off to the races!

In this chapter I will define and describe the usage of the significant parts of the sermon. Each part is as important as another as each builds upon or supports others. These parts are the Introduction, Body, and the Conclusion.

 

The Introduction

 

Some preaching theorists instruct preachers that the Introduction should be developed as the final step in sermon construction. As Vines and Shaddix argued, “Most preachers find it rather difficult to introduce something before they know what they are introducing.”^^23^^ This indeed is logical advice, but again, it really comes down to a preacher’s style, study habits, and understanding of his listeners.

There have been many times when I had determined the propositional direction of a sermon and ideas for introducing it began to pop into my mind. I had not yet developed the preaching outline or completed an in-depth analysis of the text. But I felt comfortable enough to move ahead with developing the Introduction. The point simply is this: Theoretically it is probably best to save the creation of the Introduction as the final step. There are times, however, when our creative juices percolate and we go ahead and write out the Introduction. Should our analysis of the text reveal an exegetical misunderstanding on our part, we can simply discard or alter the Introduction we developed.

 

What to Remember Before We Introduce

 

As noted, when the preacher begins his in-depth analysis of the ancient he will see things that strike his spiritual fancy. Many preachers will find themselves enamored with things such as the chiastic or grammatical structure of the text, historical truisms of a narrative, and/or indirect or secondary teachings of a passage. Because (as I tell my students) there is something different about us preachers (we love things our listeners typically do not) we tend to want to share, as soon as possible, all the things we discovered in our study.

We tend to want to share background data, grammatical aspects, and any other tidbits we considered important. The problem is that oftentimes these findings are indeed important, but if they are not related to what we are proposing (the proposition) then they should not be included in the message. If we do use them, then they should be referenced only briefly. This is why I tell my students to never, Never, NEVER open any sermon with historical/background/grammatical data.

The reason we want to avoid this preacheristic tendency is blaringly obvious. Again, we preachers tend to be fascinated with biblical data that our listeners simply do not (or can not) relate to. David Henderson argued that there remains a significant disconnect between many preachers and the modern listener. He noted that people in today’s culture are bombarded by media messages and talking heads with messages they want listeners to accept. He further noted that the disconnect between preachers and listeners is often caused by the “meaningless” terminology preachers tend to use. Stating, “The problem is that they (the listeners) … don’t hear it (the Christian message) put meaningfully”^^24^^ (parentheses added). Henderson reinforced the severity of the issue. Well-meaning, and even God-fearing, people come to church services eager to hear a word of encouragement that will help them make sense of their lives. But, too often, they leave empty-handed because the preacher did not speak, at least to them, in meaningful terms.^^25^^

The Challenges of the Introduction

 

In the preaching event our audience usually is a captive one. This means that it is unlikely that any one will get up and leave. This does not mean, however, that those listening are automatically interested or will be engaged in the message. Preachers must be willing and able to rise to the challenges an Introduction presents. Following are some of the purposes of the sermon introduction.

 

Gaining Attention/Interest

 

Experts in the arena of public speaking have said that a speaker has approximately 3 minutes to gain the attention or interest of the listeners. Duane Litfin noted that in most cases our audience will give us their attention at the outset.^^26^^ If, however, the speaker cannot hold the listener’s interest in that short time period then the listener’s minds will take them on exotic vacations, transport them to their favorite happy place, or cause them to daydream about personal or professional ambitions. Therefore, our goal is to devise an introduction that will win the listeners’ undivided attention.

Calvin Miller observed that listeners are asking the preacher, “Why should I listen?” He argued that preachers should promise to provide their listeners with “usable information” in order to gain and hold their interest. For Miller, relevance is the real issue. He added, “Relevance precedes application. People only apply sermons that have clear meaning for their lives.”^^27^^ The point, obviously, is that a preacher must secure the interest of the listener by revealing, in the first few moments, the value (relevance) of the message. Bryan Chapell noted, “An introduction should present the listeners with an arresting thought that draws them away from apathy or competing interests and makes each person say, ‘Hey! I need to hear this.’”^^28^^ This can be quite challenging but the determined preacher will strive to develop his skills in this regard.

Introduce the Biblical Text

As Vines and Shaddix noted, “If an expository sermon purposes to expose the truth of the text, then the introduction to that sermon should introduce the preaching passage to some degree.”^^29^^ They also warned that textual overload can lead to boredom on the part of the listener. Therefore preachers would do well to be selective in setting up the text.^^30^^ Hershael York and Bert Decker suggested that the placement of the text should be a function of the development of the sermon itself. They noted that such consideration is as important as the completed sermon.^^31^^

Obviously biblical exposition should involve the revealing of the selected text under consideration. I suggest reading the text as early in the introduction as possible. The star of the preaching event is indeed the biblical text from which the sermon is based. The preacher will want to waste little time introducing the star to the listeners.

 

Share the Proposition

 

As I shared earlier, the proposition is the most important aspect of the preacher’s message. This is what he wants to see his listeners do as a result of hearing the message. It is in the introduction, therefore, that the preacher begins to reveal that intended purpose.

Somewhere in his introductory comments the preacher will state something along the lines of, “God had made it clear to His children that He expected uncompromising obedience to His standards. We, as His church family, should be no less committed to that standard of uncompromising obedience. Let’s think in terms of making a fresh and uncompromising commitment to obedience to God’s standards.” In stating it this way the preacher has highlighted the central idea of the text and simultaneously shared with his listeners what they are expected to do as a result of hearing the message.

 

The Making of a Good Introduction

 

The concept of a “good” introduction is a relative idea. People are different and are motivated and inspired by different things. This means that the idea of a universal introduction is somewhat meaningless. This does not mean, however, that preachers play hit and miss in crafting introductions. There are certain general realities that bond most people together. So we must understand and appreciate those things that tend to motivate and encourage people in general.

I will have more to say about the power of story in a later chapter, but for now allow me to stress that a preacher will rarely go wrong if he introduces his message with a penetrating story of some kind. The real challenge will be in making sure the chosen story actually relates to the message proposition. He also will want to make sure the story matches the feel or the tone of the message.

Generally speaking most people will listen to a story well-told. If the preacher walks to the pulpit and begins with something like, “Last Thursday evening my wife and I were strolling through the mall. It was a pleasant evening and all was going well until …” I can almost guarantee that every member of the audience will be envisioning the scene and listening intently to the story. Of course, preachers want to be careful to not overdo the use of stories about himself or his family because he runs the risk of possibly embarrassing a family member or simply tiring the listeners of always speaking of them. There is, however, a great benefit to sharing these types of personal stories. They tend to create in the listeners’ minds that the preacher and his family are ordinary people. Transparency is a great friend of pastors and preachers. Too many preachers, unfortunately, fail to see the value of it.

Just as powerful as a personal story is when a preacher summarizes a story he has read or heard about. Mark Sanborn wrote a quaint little business book entitled The Fred Factor.^32^ When I read it I could not put it down. I literally read it in one sitting. In this book Sanborn tells the story of a postman named Fred who went the extra mile is serving the people on his postal route. Sanborn has sold countless copies of this little book that merely reminds business people that excellent customer service should be a primary goal in business. I found this information to be what I call “duh” information. In other words, it is something most business people should already know.

From this Fred Factor concept I developed an introduction to a sermon that I called The Duh Factor. As I began the message I held Sanborn’s book in my hand and summarized Fred’s story and approach to customer service. I looked out into the audience and asked, “Is anyone stunned by Sanborn’s revelations regarding customer service?” I then shared that it was and is “duh” information for people in business yet Sanborn has sold countless copies of Fred’s story. From there, as I knew my audience was engrossed in where I might be going with this message, I shared that most of what God asks us to do in His book are things Christians already know they should do. Oftentimes when we hear messages they merely are reminders of things we know we should be doing for God’s glory. But we need to be reminded, as business people need to be reminded to perform extra mile service, to do or live out these very basic things. I could tell that most people in attendance were seriously pondering what I was sharing.

There are other ways to secure the interest of listeners in the introduction. One might consider sharing a shocking statistic. Statistics tend to jolt people back into the reality of just how sinful people tend to be. These statistics are easy to find. One can Google for them or go to research websites like www.Barna.org. A recent visit to Barna’s website revealed the following statistics:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction. ^^33^^

It should be easy for a preacher to see how these types of statistics can draw listeners into the sermon.

Preachers also can share recent news events, personal experiences, historical quotes, or even site the words of a popular song in order to engage the listeners. Each of these approaches can work to draw listeners in to the message. The preacher should remember, though, that simply sharing these things will not, in and of themselves, be enough. The mindful preacher will consider how he shares these things. Body language, eye contact, voice inflection, gestures, facial expressions, pauses, and vocal rate all play a role in dramatizing the introductions. Tone and feel are two significant aspects of a good introduction.

Preachers also want to remember a few other important qualities of “good” or meaningful introductions. The preacher never wants to become routine or predictable in introducing his message. Variety is rarely a preacher’s enemy. Also, he wants to make sure that the introduction is the appropriate length for the message. A good rule of thumb is to have introductions that are equal in length to each preaching point. Lastly, the preacher will want to make sure the introduction is appropriate for the message. He should remember that the introduction literally sets the tone for the message.

 

The Body of the Sermon

 

Just after the introduction the preacher will insert his transitional sentence as he shifts his emphasis to body of the message. The body of the message is the development of the outline. It is what one might call “putting the meat on the bones of the skeleton outline.” In order to do this effectively and efficiently the preacher should master the use of the functional elements of preaching.

 

The Functional Elements

 

Going back to the principle of sermonic stinginess we want to remember that we want to be sermonically selfish with what we allow in our sermons. This means that the preacher wants to be intentional with what he puts in the message. Again, allowing only that information that supports the proposition will be utilized. Everything the preacher says in the body of the message will be characterized by one of the following functional elements.^^34^^

 

Explanation

 

The element of explanation is purposed to help the listener in coming to an appreciation or deeper understanding of the meaning of the biblical passage. Again, the preacher wants to explain only that which supports his proposition. He must resist the urge to explain everything he discovered in the analysis of the passage. So, the preacher will explain words, phrases, historical aspects, people and their involvement in the passage, and so on. Each of these aspects and explanations should aid the listener in arriving at the desired end of greater understanding. The preacher will utilize all that the passage (and sometimes, although rarely, even other passages) offers in explaining the Holy Spirit’s intended objectives within the passage.

Of the functional elements explanation should be considered the most significant because in this element the preacher is revealing and explaining the truth of the text. The other elements merely serve in supporting roles to help elevate the value of the text’s intended meaning and implications. In simple terms one cannot apply what one does not understand. Therefore the preacher will do well to master explaining God’s eternal Word in understandable ways.

 

Application

 

The goal of application in preaching is to aid listeners in making the connection between the biblical text and their lives. The issue of biblical and preaching relevancy has been discussed ad nauseam for the last few decades. Many writers in the field of homiletics speak of the need for preachers to “make the Bible relevant” for the modern listener. I have always found that expression laughable.

As I noted in the Introduction God’s Word already is remarkably relevant. No preacher “makes” the biblical text relevant. There is, however, the challenge that preacher’s face in helping listeners to see that relevance and then live it out in their daily lives. This is where the functional element of application comes into play. The issue for the preacher is not in “making” the biblical text relevant, but in revealing the pre-existing relevance.

Application, properly revealed, may show a Christian how to develop a more meaningful prayer life, solve particular problems, restore relationships, access the forgiving nature of God, develop the principle of financial stewardship, or understand and utilize spiritual giftedness. For sermons to be meaningful to listeners the preacher simply must expand his abilities in demonstrating the relevance of his chosen text.

Please understand that in order to make meaningful application to the contemporary listener the preacher must understand people and the world they live in. He literally must be a student of people and their environments. Therefore he must subscribe to popular magazines, keep abreast of financial trends, be aware of educational issues and trends, understand and be able to discuss gadget technology (the I-world), be familiar with issues in local, national, and international politics; music and literary trends, and any other matter(s) the people that attend his church face.^^35^^

Illustration

 

If a preacher wants to guarantee a boring sermon then he should produce and preach illustration-free sermons. I have listened to a number of sermons over the years in which the preacher shared no illustrations. Some of my students, a small minority, have argued with me on the need for illustrations. They contend that our purpose as preachers is to explain God’s word and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit and His empowering. While I respect this attempt to spiritualize a ridiculous notion, I nonetheless tell these students even the Lord Jesus utilized stories, parables, and illustrations when He preached.

The functional element of illustration is what I call the “fresh air” of the message. It is that element that lifts the meaning, application, and emphasis of the text from its biblical feel and allows it to be contemporized or enlivened. Illustrations, effectively used, shed additional light on the elements of explanation and application. They dramatically engage the listener because of the story-feel they possess.

Good illustrations are simply excellent short stories. The better told the better received. One of the great values of illustrations is that they have the remarkable ability to draw the daydreaming congregant(s) back into the message. Effective illustrations are clear, vivid, detailed, persuasive, believable, and appropriate. Effective illustrations also are related to ordinary life. They are not grandiose and beyond the listeners ability to relate to them. The preacher has a simple goal as it relates to illustrating: As the listener hears the story he or she should easily see the importance of what the preacher has been proposing.

Illustrations should be easy to locate. When I need one I simply sit back in my office chair and let my mind connect with what I have read, seen, heard, or experienced. Usually it only take a few minutes to find what I need to emphasize the biblical point. Preachers would do well to condition themselves to be more observant of the places they go and the things they experience. Illustrations literally are all around us. They reveal themselves in our commute to the office. They easily are seen at community sporting events. News events tend to reveal them. The curiosity and activities of toddlers provide humorous and thought-provoking illustrative material. Other places include the airport ticket counter, the movie theatre, the Japanese steak house, and our yard work. I believe the point is made.

Although many illustration sources exist on the internet and in books I always encourage my students to utilize those only as last resorts. Those sources tend sound and feel “store bought.” Illustrations are more effective coming from a preacher who presents himself as someone who has been in the same world as his congregants. In the information age people are conditioned to recognize those “downloaded” things.

Argumentation

 

I tell my students that in every sermon three of the functional elements should always be utilized. The fourth, argumentation, is the element that is only utilized when the preacher feels that his conclusions and/or interpretations of Scripture may be questioned by some in attendance. An example of this is the subject of tithing. There simply are various views held by various biblical scholars and lay Christians on what New Testament tithing/giving actually entails. The preacher who preaches on tithing, therefore, must assume the arguments and/or objections of those who may not agree with his views. He must be knowledgeable of all views and be able to demonstrate why one should adopt his view rather than a certain espoused view.

It does no good to give the impression to listeners that they simply should accept your view simply because you are the anointed preacher of God’s Word. One reason for this is the fact that countless biblical scholars, assumedly anointed men of God, hold different theological opinions on a variety of biblical subjects. Some of these include (but are not limited to) predestination, the Rapture of the Church, whether the church will be part of the Tribulation, the role of women in ministry, and divorce and the minister.

The preacher would do well to share his conclusions respectfully and lovingly and avoid at all costs a combative demeanor. I was called to my first transitional pastorate because the pastor had been terminated for a combative attitude in the pulpit. He felt strongly that anything and everything he proclaimed was undeniable truth. This approach ultimately cost him respect, love, support, and a church in which to preach. Oftentimes it is not the position we hold that causes discord and discomfort; but a haughty and prideful attitude. Preachers should never forget that they are first shepherds.

 

The Conclusion

Calvin Miller noted that sermons should have a commonality with the church of the Lord Jesus. He stated, “When the tension of the sermon ends, it ought to end at the outcome of hope. Every sermon, like every act of ministry in the church, is to end this way.”^^36^^ Miller was concluding a discussion related to the hopelessness of the modern world. The power and hope of the resurrection of Jesus should become the powerful fuel of the sermon. As the preacher moves toward the conclusion of his message joy and victory should have accompanied the sermon. The preacher can then end on a note of hope, joy, and victory.^^37^^

The conclusion of the sermon should be as planned and as considered as any other part of the message even though Richard L. Mayhue noted that “… it is the most-likely-to-be-neglected aspect of proclamation.” Mayhue continued, “However, just as an athlete needs to finish strong at the end of a race or game, the preacher must be at his best in the closing minutes.”^^38^^ In concluding the preacher needs to tie the end result that the biblical text requires to the listeners.

Brian L. Harbour, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Richardson, Texas, noted that so serious is the conclusion that the preacher must avoid common “pitfalls” that hinder the effective concluding of a message. These pitfalls were (1) The Runaway Train, in which the preacher fails to adequately plan for the conclusion and therefore the message never seems to end; (2) The Triple-Double which is a positive description of the accomplishment of a talented basketball player, but is a pejorative term for the preacher who concludes his sermon two or three times; (3) The Repeat which occurs when the preacher virtually preaches the sermon a second time; (4) The Postscript which is the place where the preacher throws in all of the extra ideas and thoughts which he could not find a place for earlier in the message, and (5) The Form Letter which is ending the sermon the same way each and every week.^^39^^

Good conclusions conclude well. Several approaches can be taken when concluding. First, one can briefly review or summarize the content of the message. Second, the propositional aspect can be restated and reviewed. Third, the preacher can lovingly exhort the audience to respond to or obey to the sermonic appeal. Fourth, the preacher can rely on the Holy Spirit’s prompting to transition to an invitation or altar call. Finally, the preacher may choose to encourage and/or comfort the congregation with pastoral conviction in order to build up the flock.

DISCLAIMER

This book contains excerpts from my Expository Preaching textbook entitled: CROSSING THE HOMILETICAL BRIDGE (Available in KINDLE HERE[*)*]

Crossing the Homiletical Bridge has some 278 pages in the Kindle Edition and is MUCH more detailed than this version. While this book contains a WEALTH of information and WILL help you learn the basic principles of biblical preaching, Crossing the Homiletical Bridge will guide you into MANY more aspects of sermon development, pastoral preaching, and sermon delivery. Crossing the Homiletical Bridge is the primary textbook for my expository/biblical preaching courses at Bible Colleges and Seminaries. At only $2.99 it will be a wonderful investment in your preaching development.

Also please Visit my Expository Preaching Website and Grab you FREE Copy of my Ebook on Pastoral Preaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.sermonoutlinesfromthebible.com/

 

 

 

 

 

1Rick McDaniel, “Understanding the Contemporary Preaching Model, ”Preaching 8 (September-October 1992): 14.

2Haddon Robinson, “Listening to the Listeners,” Leadership 4 (Spring 1983): 68.

3 Walter Kaiser, [+ Toward an Exegetical+] [+ Theology+], Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1981, p. 19.

4 Jim Shaddix, [_ The Passion Driven Sermon: Changing the Way Pastors Preach and Congregations Listen_], Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003, p. 3.

5 Colossians 1:9-12 (NASB).

6 www.smoothieking.com

7 See Dargan, A History of Preaching. Vols. 1 & 2, (New York: reprint, Burt Franklin, 1968.

8 2 Timothy 4:2

9 See Appendix 2 for a listing of essential and helpful resource materials.

10 Jim Shaddix, D.Min.; Ph.D. served as Assistant Professor of Preaching at the New Orleans Baptist Theolgical Seminary from 1996 until 2004. I served as his graduate assistant and doctoral fellow from 1997 until 1999.

11 See Appendix 3.

12 See Shaddix and Vines, [_ Power in the Pulpit_], 96-101.

13 Shaddix and Vines, Power in the Pulpit, 108.

14 Al Fasol, Essentials for Biblical Preaching: An Introduction to Basic Sermon Preparation, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 56.

15The C. I. T. has been stated in different terms by various homileticians. For example, Haddon Robinson referred to it as the “exegetical idea” in Biblical Preaching, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 66; and the late Stephen Olford called it “The Dominating Idea” in Anointed Expository Preaching, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 75 [co-authored with his son, David Olford].

16 Shaddix and Vines, Power in the Pulpit, 129.

17 Fasol, Essentials, 57.

18 Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1980), 108.

19 Vines and Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit, 133.

20 Bryson, Harold T. and James C. Taylor, Building Sermons to Meet People’s Needs, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1980), 86-87.

21 McDill, Wayne, 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching, 2nd. Edition, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2006), 112.

22See McDill, 12 Essential Skills, 111.

23Vines and Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit, 219.

24 David W. Henderson, Culture Shift: Communicating God’s Truth to our Changing World, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 21-22.

25 Ibid., 22.

26 Duane Litfin, Public Speaking: A Handbook for Christians, 2nd edition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 236.

27 Calvin Miller, The Empowered Communicator: 7 Keys to Unlocking an Audience, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994), 78-79.

28 Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994), 229.

29Vines and Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit, 220.

30 Ibid.

31 Hershael W. York and Bert Decker, Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2003), 181.

32 Mark Sanborn, The Fred Factor: How Passion in your Life can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

33 http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years

34See Vines and Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit, 174.

35 For a more detailed discussion of Application, see Vines and Shaddix, Power in the Pupit, 181-189.

36 Miller, The Empowered Communicator, 127.

37 Ibid. 126-131.

38 Richard L. Mayhue in John MacArthur and the Master’s Seminary Faculty, Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, (Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, a Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005), 207.

39Brian L. Harbour in Michael Duduit, ed., Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 217-218.


Preaching: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons: A Roadmap for Biblical

In this book, Tony Guthrie PhD. (Professor of Biblical Preaching), explains the 2 rules of biblical preaching along with the foundational concepts of biblical preaching. He explains how to design an expository sermon. Dr. Guthrie stresses the purpose of biblical preaching, and defines exactly what expository preaching is: “The oral proclamation of a properly interpreted passage of Scripture, in the power of the Holy Spirit, by a God-called messenger, to an assembled body, for the glory of God and the accomplishment of His purposes.” Guthrie provides many examples from his classes and lays out in an easy to understand fashion how the reader can quickly learn these concepts.

  • ISBN: 9781311910073
  • Author: Tony Guthrie
  • Published: 2016-01-31 19:20:10
  • Words: 16830
Preaching: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons: A Roadmap for Biblical Preaching: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons: A Roadmap for Biblical