How Many Texts to Preach?

Preaching multiple texts can derail your sermon. It should be very clear to everyone who is listening what your main point and your main text is. If you have too many competing points or too many texts, the people will get lost and will simply choose one of the points to focus on, or check out and wait until you start whooping (or whatever kind of celebration you do) to check back in…

Use Other Texts Strategically

Now certainly you can use other texts. You can bring them in, but always keep in mind that these other texts are supplemental to your main text. They are illustrating or bringing out the ideas in the main text. They are not for the purpose of bringing in completely new ideas that may take you down another street that simply leave the people lost.

What am I talking about? Well if you are preaching John 3:16 about the love of God, and then you decide to bring in 1 John 3:1 to give greater depth to the love, or to illustrate or define that love. That is fine, appropriate, and needed. However, if you allow 1 John 3:1 to take you to a “side point” that is not related to the main point of either the sermon or John 3:16, then you could easily fall into the trap of preaching 2 sermons at the same time. The people wonder what is the main point, and they simply choose one of the points which may or may not be the one that you have put all your effort into preaching.

Preach One Text

In short, preach one text. Don’t tell irrelevant stories that may detract from the message. One popular preacher always begins his sermons with a story that may or may not have any reference to the message. It is just to get a laugh and probably to get the people engaged. But what if your story is the only thing they remember, and it was unrelated to the text and the sermon? Only tell relevant stories.

If you like that other text and you think you want to drop that point, that is true, but not relevant to the point of your sermon, then guess what, you have another sermon idea that you can develop into a full fledged sermon. Don’t muddy your current sermon with ideas that will only confuse your people. Preach one strong point, any supporting points you wish to preach, and sit down.

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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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