Category Archives for "Sermon Construction"

Sources of Bible Preaching – Other Literature

Another one of the sources of Biblical Preaching is literature of all kinds. The preacher should have a knowledge found only in reading a wide variety of literature. This would include “devotional readings, some bibliography, poetry, fiction, archeology, studies in arts and sciences, and other general reading.”

Don’t Forget Your Hymnal


Another important source is the hymnal. These are the songs that the churches have held on to through the ages. They touch people on a deeper level than other kinds of materials. If you can refer to an old hymn, your sermons will have a much stronger bond with the people.

In addition, the preacher should regularly read the newspapers and magazines. Today you can add the internet. As always the preacher should read with a pad nearby to record the findings for future use.

Sources of Bible Preaching – History

After having looked at Scripture, one can find help in preaching the Biblical message from the next source for Biblical Preaching is History. This includes both an understanding of the history of the empires and people who interacted with the Biblical characters. This would include Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Such an understanding can provide background for understanding the Biblical text.

Not only an understanding of the history of those cultures, but also history down through the ages can help to illustrate important truths. You may find something in World History. Maybe Western Civilization can provide narratives that illustrate the Bible.

One can also use African and African American history to illuminate truths. Take someone like Dr. Frederick D. Haynes in Dallas Texas. He often uses Black characters and history to illustrate the points that he is preaching. Use of those illustrations gives his preaching of sermons a decided “Black” feel.

One should also make use of denominational history. In my opinion, many people of all denominations do not make use of their own denominational history in their preaching. In addition, look at other histories. There are stories in the Methodist tradition about John Wesley that anyone can use, the Methodists don’t “own” John Wesley. Likewise in other denominational groups there is a wealth of information that can help.

A good place to find information is the web. Make a regular practice of searching such places as Wikipedia and Google for history. Store your findings in a file. Then refine the file for use.

Sources of Bible Preaching – Scripture

Charles Koller’s book How to Preach Without Notes is a goldmine of homiletical insight in a short amount of space. Not only does it attempt to teach how to preach without notes, but it also provides information on how to preach any kind of sermon. In this post, I will begin discussion of Koller’s sources of preaching material. The first and primary source is scripture.

The First Place For Illustrations


Preacher’s must read it every day. This reading should be not just for sermonic content, but also for devotional and spiritual purposes. In addition, the preacher should use the Bible for illustrations. One of the most neglected places to look for sermonic illustrations is the Bible itself. There are many narratives in the Bible both well known and not so well known. I sometimes wonder if part of the reason that there is so much Biblical illiteracy is that preachers don’t use the Bible and its narratives as much as they should.

Tools to Help


Koller suggests that we first use cross references and the like to find sources in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, to illustrate the sermons. In addition, I would suggest using the Thompson Chain Reference Bible which is still on sale at Christianbook.com and/or the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge. Both are tools that provide a wealth of Biblical references to the preacher.

Unearthing a Sermon

When one expands the outline of the sermon, one normally uses some processes naturally. Charles Koller in his little work How To Preach Without notes attempts to explicitly show them so that preachers can make better use of them.

The first of these processes, that Koller calls Homiletical Devices is The Six Rhetorical Processes. They are as follows:

  1. Narration -Koller notes that the introduction of the sermon often contains narration. Here we are simply told the circumstances of the events that brought rise to the subject. This may be historical background, occassion, audience, subject, etc.
  2. Interpretation – Here we either “paraphrase, define, amplify, or describe (comparison, contrast, association.) You might use cronology or cause-effect in this process.
  3. Illustration – Here the preacher simply illustrates the point. The preacher may make use of any source of illustration.
  4. Application – Here the preacher applies the point to the hearer’s situation.
  5. Argumentation – Here the preacher uses reasoning to expand the point. One must be careful to recognize that argumentation is not to be argumenative.
  6. Exhortation – Here the preacher is pushing the people to the behavioral purpose of the sermon. This is often using the appeals of scripture

So when attempting to expand an outline, the preacher might take each point and look at them through the lens of the 6 rhetorical processes to see how to expand that point. One should take care to use a variety of processes and not merely use the same one repeatedly.

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