A Basic Sermon Model – Three Points and a Poem

One of the most persistent models of preaching has been termed “Three points and a Poem.” What it means is that the preacher makes three points and then ends with a poem. Some preachers have termed the same sermon method as “Three points and a celebration.”

I have been listening to the sermons of a few preachers and have found that this format is still being used even by some well regarded preachers. Just like any art form, there are variants, but here is one description of the parts of such a sermon.

  1. Text Description – Here the preacher looks at the text. The preacher tells the story of the text. If it is a narrative portion of scripture, the preacher tells that story making use of as many vivid details as is necessary for the purposes of the sermon. If it is a different form of text, the preacher may tell the story behind the creation of the text or any other thing that would help hearers understand the text. The preacher makes sure to give background details that can help the hearer understand what is going on.

    The main point here is that the preacher is attempting to help the people understand the text. That is the emphasis. Now as the preacher describes the text, often applications will spring forth in the minds of the congregation, that is fine and needed, but that is not the emphasis at this point

  2. Three Points of the Sermon – After telling the story of the text in such a way to help the people experience it, the preacher then moves to the three points of the sermon. These points are carefully worded expressions that are derived from the text. Here are a few questions that one can ask to derive these from the text. One might ask: “How can we experience what the text tells us?” Or “How does what the text describe become operative in our lives?”

    So let us assume that your text is Ephesians 6:12-18. You need a basic statement that will be answered by the points. In this case your question may be “How To Defeat the Powers.” The points might be, You gotta 1) Stand, 2)Put on your uniform, and 3)Pray. Your title might be something like, I’m About Business. For further help on sermon titles, you might purchase our ebook on the subject that providing a method of sermon title generation.

    The preacher should attempt to make the points of the sermon progressively intense. So the second point is more emotionally intensive than the first and the third is more than the second.

    Finally, each point of the sermon should have a few parts. First the preacher should show how the point is derived from the text. Answer the question of where this point is in the text. Second the preacher should illustrate the point with some sort of story or example. Third, the preacher should define the point clearly. Fourth, you should tell the people how to accomplish the point, or make it real in their lives. These four aspects can be mixed up in any order, but should be connected to every point.

  3. The Celebration – After you give the three points, the preacher should move towards the celebration. Here you should look for another story or illustration that summarizes the whole sermon. Then you celebrate the gospel in that story which is also celebrating the good news in all the sermon.

    If you can’t find such a summary story, then simply go on and celebrate the good news presented in the sermon. In our example, you might celebrate that you are about business. You have done all three things, and you are ready to battle the forces. You also might celebrate that God wages war for you when you enlist in God’s army.

In Conclusion, three points and a poem is still a very vibrant sermonic form that is used by many and can be a vehicle for faithful proclamation of the Good News. Some homiletics professors look down on the form, but it will probably outlast us all.

Sherman Haywood Cox II

Vanderbilt Trained Minister (MDiv), Univ. of Alabama Trained Software Developer (MS), Author, Blogger (http://soulpreaching.com), Husband, Son, Brother, Father.

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