Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Paul's admonition to Timothy is still appropriate.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
I believe I have some things to share with you. And I pray that God will bless your ministry through them. I have been asked to include these things here because they will form training material.
The first thing you need to settle is why you are preaching. You need to ask yourself several questions here. It may benefit you greatly to ask yourself these questions even if you have your sermon together for this Sunday.
Have you been born again? In John 3:3 Jesus said you cannot even see the kingdom of God if you have not been born again. A call to preach must be linked in your mind to the calling to be a child of God.
Do you have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ? If you are not in tune with Him, you will not touch lives. In Matthew 23:8-10 Jesus said.
“But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.”
We have one teacher. If He does not speak through you, you are wasting your time.
Is God telling you to preach? I remember God calling me to preach my freshman year in college. His call was as clear to me as Isaiah's call in Isaiah 6. Proclaiming God's word is my life calling. And it may be yours. But I believe God tells others of us to preach in different ways. Some of you may have been asked by your church or your pastor to preach, not necessarily as a life calling. Others may have been led to start a home church. And you have to fill the needs of those who have gathered with you. But you need to settle this issue.
Do you care about the people you preach to? My pastor when I was in high school once told me, “David, you cannot preach to people that you don't love.” Many years ago I was in a preaching slump. I talked to an experienced preacher about it. He suggested something that proved to be powerful for me. He said, “In the early part of the worship service, look into the eyes of individuals in the congregation.” It is amazing what you will see, when you really look at people. I found myself understanding and connecting with them. This will not keep you from worshipping. In fact, you can pray for each of them while you praise God.
Do you preach the word?
What I am teaching here is expository or direct Biblical preaching. I believe there is a place for topical preaching and apologetic, or subject teaching. But I believe you will find great power in sharing what God has to say to people in His word.
THE SPIRITUAL CONNECTION
OF THE SERMON
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
In preaching God must strike the hearts of people with the lightning of His presence. The first important factor in connecting to that is your own relationship with God, ultimately, consistently and immediately.
Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord.
The sermon must be anchored on the bedrock of God’s word.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:1,2
I actually think these 5 things are essential to sermon preparation.
Get yourself right.
Read yourself full.
Think yourself clear.
Pray yourself hot.
Preach yourself out.
This is not necessarily a sequence. God can give seeds of sermon ideas in any order.
What I have below is a good general order for laying a solid foundation for your sermon. I call it Serback for sermon background thinking.
Determine the specific Bible text you are going to preach. It can be long or short.
(Central idea of the text) A simple sentence that states the heart of the passage. This generally needs to be in the past tense. It states what the passage said to the people who first heard it.
You can focus on a specifics in a passage. For instance a sermon on John 3:16 may focus on the love of God, the gift of God, the Son of God, believing in God, not parishing, or eternal life.
You need a clear picture of the people you are addressing. The first distinction is Believers or Unbelievers. And you may know other things about the people who will hear you.
I have noted 11 basic human needs. You need to think about this yourself. I suspect many of you will come up with more needs.
PURPOSE OF THIS SERMON:
There are at least 6 major biblical purposes for a sermon. These are followed by a specific purpose which is stated as a simple sentence beginning with, “I want my hearers to . . .” You need to determine the major and specific purpose of each sermon.
If you do not know how you want your hearers to respond they will not know when you are finished.
This will be a simple sentence corresponding to your specific purpose statement, such as “Accept Christ as Savior and Lord.” This is not unlike the thesis of an essay.
You need to find a visualization of what you are saying. Jesus did this with the parables. “Behold, a sower went out to sow.”
Your picture will always draw certain emotions. It will help you to think about what emotion you wish to strike. Some legitimate emotions are joy, humility, sorrow, fear, anger, conviction, and submission. To some extent the emotion you strike in your visualization will apply to the entire sermon, although each element, possibly each sentence may strike a separate emotion. (One of my favorite preachers did not think this was helpful to him. He thought deciding ahead of time what emotion to strike would be contrived.)
Any emotion can be misused. I think it is valuable to note the reason you want to elicit a certain emotion.
Determine why this sermon urgent for people to hear. You will find that settling this will be crucial to stirring the hearts of people. There are several reasons for urgency that sermons may touch.
CONNECTION TO THE GOSPEL
Every sermon needs to connect the the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will often need to think about a Scripture passage for some time, before you see how its truth links to the gospel.
I think it is worth noting which spiritual gifts you are asking God to give you in the sermon. Of course, you want to be open to whatever He decides to give. Several of the listed gifts are obviously part of preaching.
The word prophecy does not primarily speak of prediction in Scripture, although it can. It is a word for speaking from and for God.
In Acts 2 each person heard in their own dialect. Everyone has their own heart language. Especially when I have preached through an interpreter, I prayed for that miracle. I believe it is more often needed than we think even when everyone speaks your language.
Charles Swindoll calls these principles emphasizing the importance of what you are saying.
It is good to think your points out so that they can all be drawn out of a single sentence.
Here are some examples.
YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN A TRUST.
“A Trust Includes The Responsibility of Faithfulness.”
“A Trust Includes The Risk of Faithfulness.”
“A Trust Includes The Reward of Faithfulness.”
DO YOU BELIEVE THIS
“Do You Believe This Ultimately?”
“Do You Believe This Immediately?”
“Do You Believe This Intimately?”
Linking points in a single sentence can be more effective than using parallelism like rhymes or alliteration in giving people something to remember.
When you have finished these foundations, you can compose your sermon.
Next week I will suggest a most unusual means of preparing a sermon that I believe will unleash the power of God in your preaching.