OK, back to homiletics. That is the official name of the study of preaching.
In Part One, we had covered the work of selecting, and reading and researching the text or passage for that sermon. Now we have to use the information we have gathered to create a statement of synthesis and and outline of the sermon.
Part B is a brief statement that tells what the sermon is about. It must follow the research I have already done. It can be no more than a sentence or two. It states THE point of the sermon. Too many sermons are all over the place. But it lacks focus. I like to ask someone what the sermon was about. Then I can see if that fits my summary statement in Part B. I had a professor once say that every sermon should have at least one point. That seems like it should be obvious. But there are too many sermons that leave you wondering what it was about. Most of the time that is because the preacher did not work hard enough on his synthesis statement.
It’s a little strange that this is the shortest part of the process on paper. But in many ways it is the most difficult part. It must be informed by the exegesis that you have created. Let’s look at that word. Exegesis means “drawing out.” All of the study I do is for the purpose of drawing out the meaning of the text. I try very hard not to preaching some idea that I have and then find a Bible passage that supports that idea. To me,that is not preaching. A sermon is a preacher helping the listeners hear the message that the Bible is presenting.
Once I have written a solid Part B, my thesis statement, I am ready to begin to write an outline. There is no magic number of sub-points to a sermon. I try to let the text inform me about how the message should flow. In the outline it is time to take all of the material I have found and build a kind of skeleton for the sermon. While I am doing this, I think about where the major transitions will be and the order in which I want to present the material. I try to remind myself that you cannot and should not try to preach the whole Bible in one sermon. The outline has to stick to the main them that I have written in Part B.
I don’t worry about how long the sermons will be. Some of that is the style I have developed over the years. Mine are usually somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes. A professor was asked how long one should preach. He said,”preach until you are finished and then for God’s sake, stop. There is nothing worse for the kingdom of God than to bore s group of people for a long time. While I am doing the outline, I think about where the illustrations will fit. Some do not. It is a mistake to use a story just because you think it’s great if it doesn’t fit into the theme of the sermon. Save it for another time.
I do a strange little thing while creating my outline. I highlight the various things I have found and the illustrations I have thought of. I color code them with different colored highlighters. This helps me visualize the flow of the sermon and makes it easier for me to write the actual sermon. My kids always thought it was funny that I “color”my sermons. I told them it was therapy for old people. Next time we will finish the sermon writing process. Then I will be including some sermons for your amusement.
JOKE OF THE DAY
The preacher was giving a children’s sermon in the fall. He wanted to talk about being prepared for the future. He said, “Boys and girls, what is it that is gray and has a bushy tail and climbs trees?” One little guy answered, “I know the right answer is always supposed to be Jesus, but that sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”