Preaching With Your Senses

Preachers determine the meaning of scripture so that they can convey that meaning to the congregation in the preaching moment. Preachers go to considerable lengths to make sure that they preach the truth and not error. They study the passage within the context of the chapter, book, and even the whole cannon of scripture. In many cases, the preacher derives valid and truthful points from the text and then present those vital truths to the people. This is good, but often when you take the points from the story, you remove the ability of the people to fully experience the truth that you are presenting. But before the people can experience the text, we have to both understand and experience the text ourselves.

But how do you experience the text? Well you should do a full exegesis as you have done in the past, but I would also suggest that you might allow all of your senses to guide your understanding of the text. Yes, allow all five senses of touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste to help you ask questions of the text that you are presenting.

Five senses iconsFor example, let’s look at the woman who grabbed for Jesus’ cloak in Luke 8:40-49. After doing your exegesis, now go into the text and look around. What do you feel when exploring, in your minds eye, the text. Do you feel the pushing and the shoving around as the crowd almost crushes Jesus? Do you see a frail woman whose loss of blood no doubt made her weak? Do you see the desperation as the woman who has expended all of her money, according to a parallel passage, comes to her last chance. Do you see the mass in front of her and her pushing through bobbing and weaving to get to the Master? Do you feel the people pushing away as they try to get to Jesus for themselves? Do you feel the clothing of the Master’s garment on the tip of her fingers as she lunges for a touch?

What does explicitly thinking about your senses do? It forces you to think about the story. It forces you to realize that this is not just a lesson for us today, and it is that, but it is also a story about a woman struggling for liberation that only comes from a connection to the master. It is a real story of a real desperate woman and her interaction with the master.

Thinking about these kinds of questions might give you a sermon title. Or maybe it could offer aid in ordering your sermon. Or maybe this type of analysis will help you in the presentation of the message. In any case, this type of analysis will encourage an experience with a desperate woman touching the master’s garment. This will provide a marvelous backdrop for your presentation.

Now some may argue that this kind of analysis is not going to be helpful, or they may argue that they already do this. And that is fine, but before you throw it away, think about explicit questions that come from your senses.

Many preachers exegete the text so that they can understand intellectually the Bible and preach a bible lecture that informs the people. That is good, but take it a bit further and convey a story that we not only experience intellectually, but also physically and emotionally. Address the whole being by allowing your senses to aid in the exegesis. I am sure that this will help you present the truths of the Bible.

Comments

comments

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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18 comments on “Preaching With Your Senses
  1. Sandy says:

    Greetings, Pastor Sherman. As always, I generally take away at least one point from your articles. While I do a lot of reading, thinking, praying, researching prior to sermon presentation (I generally start Sunday evening by reading next Sunday’s scripture, then let it “smolder” awhile, reading other related materials), I have never consciously considered all the senses during preparation. Plan to do so in future. It can only help! Blessings on you and your ministry. – Pastor Sandy

  2. Rev. Wil says:

    Experiencing the five senses in studying Scripture in prep for your next sermon adds emotional and physical understanding to the intellect of understanding the intended Scripture message and its application to our own lives. I call it ‘living the Scriptures’ before you share. Excellent commentary in your message on Preaching With Your Senses. Still Serving Him!

  3. Carletta says:

    I really enjoy the teaching infomation, that you take out your time to give.
    Thank You

  4. Thank you Shermon. Jesus says that the greatest commanment of all is to love the LORD your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul and with all of your strength. The ‘all of your’ statements are terminated with things that in total correspond to the whole of the person. You shall Love the LORD your God with all that you are. Your senses and feelings exegisis when added to the intellectual exegesis is holistic, i.e. involves all that you are in interpreting the scripture and delivering its meaning through the sermon to a congregation and doing so meets the LORD’s greatest commandment of all…Well done good and trusted servant!

  5. Dupree says:

    Most preachers see themselves in the text from life ups and downs and can’t help but use their senes when preaching the Word! Thats powerful stuff! Keep it cming

  6. B. Soto says:

    Greethings. Very helpful information. I look forward to your teachings.

  7. elder nelson says:

    Very good information, if you can feel the text while reading and studying it before preaching, your congregationwill feel it when you preach.
    Thanks a lot, God Bless

  8. Min.Jameel Rasheed says:

    Greetings Pastor Sherman I thank Almighty God for you and I’am glad that you have given a well rounded information on exergesis of the scripture with all of you senses,because I was just only using myself in my messages at times,but now you hasve given me another way(s) of looking at the wholer matter.Thats very powerful,and may Almighty God continue to you knowledge that you may share with us.Stay Strong.keep it coming.THANK YOU.

  9. mossua11 says:

    Thank You Sir for the five senses approach to assist us in understanding what God is revealing through his word. I am using it in Sunday School Study, Bible Study, and Message Preparation. I see many different wonderful encouraging things using the five senses in reading the Bible. The scriptures through the Holy Ghost are giving a clear reality of what is being read. This helps to give insight into an understanding of what was then as compared to what is now. My bible study becomes a personal relationship with the word. I have noticed that using the five senses in reading the Bible that (a) I listen more to what others have to say, and (b) that their can and will be more viewpoints than mine. Thank you, Sir, again for the information.

  10. D. Keith Bonner says:

    Preacher, this will be another pattern to add to my exegetical exercises.

  11. Thank you so very much for the insight of making use of your senses, I like that.

  12. YES, IN TIMES OF TROUBLE PASSAGES I DO USE MY SENSES. I TRY AND LIVE THE INCIDENT AS THOUGH IT WAS HAPPING TO ME.
    GLAD TO KNOW SOMEONE ELSE GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE SITUATIONS IN THE SCRIPTURES.
    GOD BLESS YOU

  13. Minister Yvette says:

    I am so happy to have connected with you Pastor Sherman. I am still a student and new preacher. This information has truly opened up a brand new door for me. Keep it up, for there are those who are very new to publicly speaking and need the encouragement and expertise of all who are willing to share it. Thank you so very much!!!

  14. Rev. Kim says:

    I appreciate the creativity and awareness that this technique offers. I am in seminary and this process was introduced in class and I did struggle with it. In reading your contribution, I am better able to grasp the process as a whole and I can now see how helpful it can be when integrated into my sermon preparation. Peace and Joy!

  15. PASTOR TONY CREDLE says:

    THE SENSE OF SMELL IS A POWERFUL GIFT FROM GOD, ESPECIALLY IN THE SPIRITUAL SENSE. SMELL IS WHAT ATTRACTS US TO FOOD. JESUS SAID, FEED MY SHEEP. I REALLY LIKE THIS POSTING. I BELIEVE THAT PREPARING A SERMON IS ALMOST LIKE PREPARING A MEAL. IF IT’S GOOD TO YOU (THE COOK) IT WILL BE GOOD TO THEM (THE EATERS). IF IT’S GOOD TO YOU (THE PREACHER) IT
    WILL BE GOOD TO THEM (THE CONGREGATION). NOBODY WANTS A MEAL THAT
    HAS NOT BEEN PREPARED RIGHT. THIS POST HAS A GREAT SMELL TO IT, AND
    IT WILL BE HELPFUL TO MANY MINISTERS. THANKS, AND KEEP UP THE GOOD
    WORD AND WORK DR. COX.

  16. Very good information and I’m sharing it in my ministers class.

    God bless,

    How can I get your contact information?

  17. Antoinette Bass says:

    Thanks a bunch, Rev. Cox…this article is just another jewel I will add to my learning experience. In some way, I believe I have used @ least three of the senses in my messages. Certainly this will make me aware of the others and will apply them. Thanks so much for your input and God bless.

  18. I totally agree with the article. I had a hard time keeping the kids attention. So I searched the scripturre to see how they preached. Look at Peter in Acts 2. He preaches the Psalms by mental images and exlains them with the mind’s eye. whats cool is it not only engaged the kids, but also the adults in the congregation have responded to this “senspost!ory exegesis.” Thanks for the your ministry. It benefits me a lot.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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