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7 Steps to a Good Sermon or How To Create and Preach a Sermon

I am writing this to include in the Problogger.net How To Group Writing Project. At this link you can find a number of Bloggers giving “how to’s” on a ton of subjects…

This post has been expanded into a free ebook that you can find information about at this link

  1. Get a Text to Preach – There are many ways to get a text. The preacher can choose a text. The preacher can use a lectionary like the Revised Common Lectionary that assigns a text. The preacher can create a sermonic plan that incorporates and includes a list of texts. One preacher told me that he daily reads the Bible devotionally and then he writes down insights. When it is time to preach he goes through his notes for the previous year to find themes and texts to preach.
  2. Interpret the Text For Preaching – Biblical exegesis consists of readingPreaching Paul the text closely. An outline method that I use for exegesis is from Dr. Brad Braxton. He looks at the text from a few angles to get a well rounded view of the text. First he gets his initial impressions of the text by reading it in various translations and noting whatever comes to his mind in relation to the text. Then he goes to a literary analysis where he carefully examines the literary structure of the text. Here we look at exactly what is said in the text. Then he does an analysis of the Historical and Rhetorical dimensions of the text under consideration. Here we look at the history behind the text including the author and the hearers of the text. Finally, Dr. Braxton looks at the Theological and Contextual dimensions of the text. Here we seek to understand the social context of the text and the theology of the writers and hearers of the text.
  3. You can see his process more fully in the book Preaching Paul.

  4. Get a Theme for the Sermon – What is the point of your sermon? Here you look at your exegesis and determine what does God want the hearers to get from the sermon and how do you think the hearers should respond to the sermon? In other words what does the Sermon Claim about the Gospel and what do you want the people to do as a result of hearing the sermon.
  5. Write the Sermon – Using the theme of the sermon and the exegesis, write the sermon. Be sure to structure your sermon in a way that makes sense. By that I mean that the movement of the sermon makes sense and would not be confusing to the hearers. I try to write my first draft as quickly as possible.
  6. Prepare Sermon for Preaching (Editting and Polishing) – If you have written your sermon very quickly then it is time to actually edit the sermon. Condense the sermon by getting rid of words that are redundant. You also want to get rid of theological concepts that might be hard to understand for the hearers. You don’t have to dumb down the content, but you must state whatever you have to say in a clear way.
  7. Practice the Sermon – Go over the sermon in your mind or out loud. Reading the serrmon out loud will help you to continue the editing. You will find some parts don’t make sense and other parts can be made more clear. You will also gain a greater command of your sermon.
  8. Preach the Sermon With Confidence – Go ahead and present the sermon. You have prepared, you have a Biblical sermon becuase you did adequate exegesis. You have an interesting and informative sermon becuase you came up with the sermonic point and you have an idea of how the people should respond to the sermon.

Someone asked once how long should each step take? Well that is a hard question, it should take as long as it takes you to finish the point. But I do wish to add that you will never be totally finished in sermon preparation even after the presentation of the sermon. So you must prepare enough…what that means depends on who you are…

Review: As One Without Authority

What is the New Homiletic and how has it affected homiletics? This book by Fred Craddock is often referred to as the book that started a big change to the homiletic horizon. As I read it today many things sound almost axiomatic due to the strong influence of the work.

If you wish to learn about the foundations of homiletics today or you have a historical interest in “the New Homiletic,” or you just wish to read a good overview of a method of preaching, I would suggest that you purchase and read the work. You can download a review of this foundational work below.

As One Without AuthorityIn the conclusion to the 5 page review I state:

On page 3 Craddock asks for a stay of execution against the sermon. I think that his book
demonstrates that sermons can overcome the problems described in Chapter 1. This book
shows the fundamentals of induction, narrative, and other components of the new Homiletic
clearly and quickly and thus even today I would suggest that all preachers read it.

Authenticity and Preaching

What is the role of authenticity in preaching? Should it equate to authority? Why or Why not? Here are 4 things preachers should keep in mind when discussing the term authenticity:

  1. The preacher is an important component of all homiletic views and thus who the
    preacher is and how the preacher acts is important whether it is in terms of authority
    or discipleship.
  2. Preaching in a true-like fashion is important just as we preach truth. How important
    it is depends on your assumptions of what preaching is and where authority resides.
  3. Style does affect the reception of the message. But we must be careful not to fall into
    the trap of using style to appear authentic.
  4. The preacher’s authenticity can be a vehicle through which God speaks to the congregation.

Prophetic Preaching

What is prophetic preaching? Zach Mills, one of my collegues in the Modern Homiletics Theory course, summarized prophetic preaching as:

[P]reaching that creatively speaks-on behalf of others-of the injustices and inadequacies of the present and the hopeful possibilities of the future.

We often speak of prophetic preaching as primarily speaking truth to power and the powerful. Often we do not recognize the times to speak truth to those who wield power in our own sphere of influence. Dr. Brad Braxton, in a lecture at the Kelly Miller Smith Institute, stated that the prophetic witness cuts both ways. What we speak to power we must speak to ourselves. The lack of equality for women in the Black Church demonstrates that while we may speak of inequality in others we must in addition speak it to ourselves when it is needed.

To add to this important point, I also think that another thing that Mills brought out is very important. The idea that we should not totally divorce prophetic and pastoral preaching. Prophetic preaching definitely plays some pastoral roles. Going back to Mills’ definition, to speak for the oppressed and articulate their concerns gives voice to them and serves a pastoral function. In addition to provide a vision of a better day is pastoral.

I think that the difference between the two is one of emphasis and not totally separation. Prophetic preaching is something that all preachers must do on occasion. Some of us relish that job and others shy away from it, but if we are to be true preachers of the Gospel we must provide a vision of a better world and confront the powers in this world that would stand in the way of that vision.

Kerygma and Didache

While studying for a class in Modern Homiletic Theory I came across these two important terms. The terms of interest to me now are the comparison between Kerygma and Didache in preaching. Often didache is seen as the “ethical instruction” in preaching. Kerygma’s purpose is seen as making new converts. Here we see a difference in purpose. Didache is for the converts and Kerygma is for the outsiders.

Who is Your Preaching For?

As I look at this a fundamental question arises, How much of our preaching is for the congregation and how much is for outsiders? Some churches are totally evangelistic driven and thus almost all of their preaching would be considered Didache under this understanding. Other try to balance the two, but how should you or do you balance these two ideas?

Some have attempted to clearly define what the Kerygma was in the New Testament. However I think this thought of “who the preaching is for” rather than the “content” is helpful in distinguishing the two.

So preachers, think about who you are addressing in your sermons and see how much time you are addressing those in the community and those outside the community. From your own perspective see if what you are doing is in line with your understanding of what Christian preaching is.

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