Notes on Preaching from Martin Luther King

Here is a transcription of Dr. King’s notes that he took in a introduction to preaching course. There is a list of sermonic strutures like ladder, jewel, skyrocket which begins on the ground in a concrete situation and then “travels up to a spiritual truth which has meaning for that situation on earth; and then the sermon comes down in seperate divisions to that situation.” We also see other structures that you can find in other places.

All in all it looks like Dr. King is notes in a standard introduction to homiletics course. One interesting quote from this is the following:

All preaching grows out of the needs of the people.

Unless the critical approach helps you to understand a thing more it is no good.
You don’t preach knowledge; you use knowledge to preach.

A very interesting quote and I wonder if Dr. King is writing what the instructor said or is he making a statement of his own belief. That last statement should help many people who are deciding whether to allow certain things in their sermon. “You don’t preach knowledge; you use knoweldge to preach.”

Felt Needs Preaching?

Peculiar Speech: Preaching to the BaptizedAlbert Mohler has an interesting article on Preaching to Felt Needs. I initially found it at the Transforming Sermons blog. The article calls into question the almost assumed superiority of preaching to felt needs. Mohler quotes Will Willomon who believes that the Gospel is not merely to touch our felt needs, but it is in the felt-need changing business. If my felt needs are corrupt then I need my felt-needs changed not placated to.

Howerver there is something strangely unwelcome about the thought that the congregations felt needs are not important and instead we should let the wholly other Gospel transform our felt needs…I think Willimon would argue that this unwelcome feeling is due to the fact that the Gospel is always an inbreaking from outside of ourselves. It is interesting that this has come up in that I am about to turn in a paper comparing Willimon’s understanding of preaching to Mary Catherine Hilkert. I will post it when I finish it.

New Book for Professor Kent Anderson

Choosing to Preach: A Comprehensive Introduction to Sermon Options and StructuresDr. Kent Anderson has just written a book entitled Choosing to Preach. In it he provides various sermon structures for faithful preaching. Anderson is writting from and to an evangelical context.

In the book Anderson is seeking to demonstrate many options including his own which he calls the “Integrative Model.” Looks to integrate Authority as including both text and contemporary experience as well as integrating an appeal to both head and heart. The four stages of his model is helpful in that it provides a very full view of the text and our present situation in light of the text. In a sense we get to look at the text from the standpoint of “head” or logic as well as our present context from the same standpoint. In addition we look at both the text and our present context from the standpoint of heart as well.

Anderson’s method seems to open the door to a fairly systematic look at the text that one need not be evangelical to follow and I would encourage you to look at it.

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…