Break It Down
On rare occasions I visit a good steak house and have a prime rib. A good tender medium prime rib steak is wonderful. However, much goes into preparing and enjoying it. A certain cut of meat is required. Then, it has to be cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. Then, once served, the obvious next step is for me to cut the prime rib into individual bites and enjoy it.
Make Smooth Transitions
Once the basic outline of the sermon is in place, some transitional wording needs to be inserted between the big idea and the main points of the outline. This involves asking a pertinent question about the big idea and then answering it with a second statement. The transition may be left out of the written outline, but it will always be necessary to make the transition verbally when you preach.
Connect Your Thoughts
Once the big idea of the sermon has been chosen, the main points of the outline will need to be constructed. Roman Numerals should be used to identify the main points of the outline. The main points will have a specific relationship to the big idea, but the big idea should remain the singular focus of the sermon. However, the main points will need to say something important about the big idea. They may give further explanation of the big idea, establish proof of the big idea, apply the big idea in some fashion, or restate the big idea. Keeping these four possible relationships in mind each time you construct an outline will help you produce outlines with a singular focus. The main points should never stand alone, but always complete or complement the big idea.
Make Your Point
There’s a humorous anecdote that I once heard about a fellow who never went to church much. His wife attended every Sunday and often asked him to go with her. Finally, he went one Sunday and listened intently to the sermon. Afterwards, his wife asked, “Well what did the preacher preach about?” He thought for a minute and said, “Sin.” “Well what did he say about sin?” asked his wife not letting him off the hook so easily. Again, he thought for a moment and then replied, “Well, I think he was against it.” The moral of the story is this, If we expect our listeners to understand what we are saying, we better be crystal clear. Think about the average political speech. They cover a lot of ground and touch on many subjects, but it’s nearly impossible to summarize their message. We, as preachers must do better than that. Our subject matter is too important for our message to be confusing or vague. We have to make a singular, crystal-clear point, if we expect anyone to remember it and to benefit from it.
Search the Scriptures
Now that we have covered the preacher’s calling, education, theological knowledge, and understanding of the original languages, the foundational aspects of expository preaching have been addressed, and we can move on to sermon preparation.
Open Your Eyes
My friend was a young man, perhaps the youngest member of the adult Sunday school class that he taught, yet everyone agreed that he was an excellent teacher. I was a few years older, and a seminary student. He was a first year Bible college student. Nevertheless, I marveled at his level of knowledge and ability to teach, but he had not yet acquired all the tools he needed to be his best. Evidently, he recognized that he needed an education ⎯ at least a degree. However, he disdained some degree requirements. For example, he saw no reason to study the Greek language although it is the language of the New Testament. “I am an Englishman,” he declared when the topic came up. “Why do I need to learn Greek,” he asked? He continued, “I speak English and I read an English Bible. The people I teach all understand English. Why do I need to know Greek?” He went on to argue that he could understand everything that he needed to know about the Bible by reading good “English” commentaries. I didn’t argue with him at the time, but I profoundly disagreed.
See the Forest