I’ve found in my own preparation it’s easy for my sermon development to become merely science. You find the right information, discover the right interpretation, arrange your thoughts in an orderly manner and you have a sermon ready to preach. With all of the digital Bible study tools at our disposal it’s become easier to “build” a sermon. We can cut and paste quotes from commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and other materials with great ease. We can then organize the quotes with our outline and be ready to preach on Sunday.
I contend that there is much more to sermon preparation and delivery than that. There is an “art” to it all. Our sermons should be more than well-organized truth. They should be developed as we wrestle with the implications of the text for our own lives. We should seek not only to inform but to persuade with Spirit-filled unction. We should learn from the ancient Greeks and make sure that our rational appeal (logos) is accompanied by a credible life (ethos) and an emotional appeal (pathos). I believe this threefold approach is modeled by Paul in Acts 18:1-4. Paul was in Corinth working as a tentmaker to support himself (ethos). He was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath (logos). And he was laboring to persuade Jews and Greeks (pathos). He wasn’t just presenting interesting lectures, he was trying to lead people to salvation in Christ. There’s no doubt that there was a science to Paul’s preaching, but there was also an art to his preaching.
We should go after people’s hearts as we seek to show them the beauty of Christ and the power of the Gospel. Here are some questions to ask as you prepare sermons and seek to practice the science and the art of biblical preaching:
- How does this text apply to my own life?
- How does my sermon engage people’s minds and affections?
- Is the main point of this sermon clear and compelling?
- How can I make this sermon memorable?
- How can I better communicate these truths?
- What do I want people to believe after they hear this sermon?
- What do I want people to do after they hear this sermon?
- Is there a balance in this sermon between informing and pleading?
- Am I content with this sermon if it’s the last one I ever preach?
- How does this sermon make much of Jesus?
- Am I ready to preach this sermon to the glory of God?
Have a great Sunday!