Monday, August 10, 2009

Thoughts on Preaching

The following are some thoughts I have on preaching. This list is in no way exhaustive but contains some of the key elements I seek to incorporate into my own preaching.

1. Expository - I often joke that I am not creative enough to come up with fancy and thought provoking sermon series and topics. Therefore, I often resort to simply taking a passage of Scripture and preaching through it verse by verse. Over the years I have come to believe that expository preaching is the most effective form. By preaching through books of the Bible in a systematic manner I increase my chances of preaching on all of the subjects and topics it contains. This also prevents me from only preaching on topics that I may consider important. Furthermore, it tends to help listeners understand the Bible more easily and completely since I work through passages or books in a systematic fashion.

2. The text can never mean what it never meant - This line of thinking comes from the book The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text by Sidney Greidanus. The phrase speaks for itself. The Bible cannot mean for us today what it did not mean for it's initial hearers. This is extremely important to remember when preaching and developing the application of a particular passage. Therefore, it is imperative to do the proper research to determine the cultural and historical settings in which a particular passage of Scripture was penned.

3. So What? - As mentioned by Bryan Chapell in Christ-Centered Preaching, every sermon must answer this question. After all a sermon is not a classroom lecture. I believe it is my responsibility to help the listener apply the passage to their everyday lives and help them understand what Scripture is calling them to do as a result. Obviously the Holy Spirit may reveal an application to the listener that I do not mention. However, I believe it is important for me to help provide as much application as possible.

4. One Meaning, Multiple Applications - This is important to prevent the common statement, "this passage means this to me." Each passage in the Bible has only one exact meaning. Although we may disagree at times on various interpretations that does not mean that there are multiple ways to interpret a passage. I do believe that one can at times derive multiple applications from a passage. A person may take a promise such as found in 1 Peter 5:7 and apply it to multiple areas in which they are experiencing fear and worry.

5. Preach the Gospel - This was ground in to me by my preaching professor, Robert Smith at Beeson Divinity. It is imperative that every sermon point the listener to the cross and the need for salvation through Jesus Christ. Although it may be easier to do this with some passages than others, I believe all of Scripture serves this end.

So, there are a few simple thoughts on preaching. I have noticed that these ideas seem to be gaining popularity which is very encouraging. Those who believe that preaching is outdated and irrelevant and must be drastically changed would do well to reconsider. Otherwise they may not have anyone in their churches to listen to their new, "relevant" style of preaching.

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
1 Timothy 4:13

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Well said sir. Something I've been doing lately is treating every personal Bible study as I would a sermon preparation. Since I'm not preaching anywhere, I doubt that I'll actually use it as a sermon, but it has been very fruitful in my life. I've been going through the sermon on the mount for a month now and I love it.

Another great thing I've found is in our small group, where our small group leaders have a great talent for bringing the whole group into a meditation on a topic or passage of scripture. Hopefully, I can learn how they pull this off, because it seems quite effective.