Making Scripture Real In Preaching – Use Your Senses

Prodigal Son For Modern Preaching

Prodigal Son For Modern PreachingPerhaps the most effective thing a preacher can do to strengthen the connection between the congregation and the scripture is to interpret the Bible with your senses.  Here you use all of your senses when you seek to understand the scripture.  Yes I mean touch, sight, taste, smell, and hear.

This is related to the stylistic exegesis that I wrote on a little while ago.

Walk In the Text


Now I do not mean feel the pages or smell them! What I mean is that you need to get into the Bible story.  Seek to walk around in the story.  When you are exegeting the text, you can open your mind to a lot of sermons and more effective preaching by simply walking around and noting what is going on with your senses.

For example, let us assume that you are exegeting the story of the prodigal son for preaching.  Exegesis is not done when you complete a historical, theological, and literary exegesis of the tex. You need to now walk up to the prodigal son on his way to the far away country in the story.  Look at his face.  What do you see?  Do you see excitement?  Do you see hope?  Do you see desire?  What do you see on the road?  Do you see the one lane highway turning into a thoroughfare?  Do you see the lights of the city at night and the skyline of the day?  What do you smell?  In my imagination I smell new cologne.  I smell the new clothes that he has spent some of his money on.  What do you hear?  Do you hear the sounds of the city getting louder on the way to the city?

Comparing the Past To The Present

Now let’s turn it around to the road back home.  What do you see?  What do you see on the face of the son?  Do you see desperation?  Do you see a man wondering if he will be accepted?  Do you see fear?  How does his face look compared to how it looked on the way there?  What do you smell?  Now you may smell the young man.  Instead of cologne perhaps you smell the perspiration that comes form weeks of hard labor without a bath.

Now explicitly connect what you have learned to the people in your sermon.  When you do this, you are now in a position to understand and identify with the young man on a level that you could not before doing this analysis.  Now you will be able to help the people understand the the son better. And if they understand the son better then they can appropriate the lessons better.  You can then preach this story on a deeper level than you might have before.  Now you are ready to put your sermon together with the added insight of human experience.  It will provide examples, illustrations, and other important components to your sermons.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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