Tuesday 1 December 2009

Preaching Clear Sermons (Part One)

Perhaps one of the highest compliments that you can be paid as a preacher is when someone who has heard you preach, comes to you and says: ‘I will never forget that sermon that you preached on …’ At all times, all the glory must go to God, because this can only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit, however it must be our high aim to preach clear sermons that people do not forget.

We need to ask ourselves as preachers some very searching questions. For example: Why does some preaching appear boring and irrelevant, and some dynamic and exciting? Why do some preachers connect with their audience while others do not? How can we avoid preaching sermons that are quickly forgotten? No matter how we deal with the subject of preaching we know that we will all fall short of the supreme standard of the greatest preacher ever, our Lord Jesus Christ—He is our example and we must aim at improving all areas of our sermon preparation and delivery.

We ourselves will always struggle with our own insecurities, our inadequate gifts to express the glorious truths of the gospel and many other failings, but we know that Christ has not left us alone in our ministry. He has promised the precious gift of the Holy Spirit; He is the One who is sent to the church to continue the mission of our Heavenly Father. We are not alone in the pulpit. In the Upper Room on the night before His crucifixion, Jesus repeatedly taught His disciples a Trinitarian view regarding the plan of salvation. This includes the promise that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will be our Comforter and Helper (John 14:16–17, 26; 15:26; 16:7), the One who would come alongside the disciples in their mission. Should we not expect the same in the twenty-first century?

It would be a great encouragement to all preachers to read John 13:1–17:26 with a pencil and paper to make a note of all the specific promises concerning the help and ministry of the Holy Spirit. This would most likely strengthen our faith and give us fresh joy in the high calling of the Christian ministry. Our aim here is to simply look at five stages that are involved in the act of preaching clear sermons and at the end of this teaching, there is a preaching feedback sheet. This helpful tool can be given to your fellow elders or friends in your church, so that they can lovingly evaluate your preaching, in order that you may develop further in your service to Christ.

The Five Stages Involved in Preaching Clear Sermons

1. The Importance of a Single Idea
2. The Intended Meaning of the Text
3. A Clear Sermon Structure
4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Applications
5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience

It must be noted that this is not an exhaustive study of the office of pastor and that of a preacher. For example we do not mention the essential need for godly character for the Christian minister (1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:5–9; 1 Peter 5:1–5), the importance of learning how to handle the Bible correctly or many other aspects that are connected with caring for the flock of God. It should also be noted that the range of topics covered here could also be applied to other areas of life, for example as a guideline for effective communication skills.

What is a definition of preaching? Preaching could be defined as: A public proclamation of the intended meaning of a specific Bible passage (or text), in a way that the hearers understand. The goal of Christian preaching is the worship of the Triune God, who is accessed only through God’s mediator, Jesus Christ (1Timothy 2:5). Many Christians have probably over-looked that the central part of our Lord’s earthly ministry, beyond the redemption of sinners, was actually that of a preacher. Here are a few Bible passages from Mark’s Gospel that drive this point across. Let us walk in grace and humility as we follow in our Lord’s footsteps, learning of Him (Matthew 11:28–30).

Mark 1:14–15 And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
1:35–9 And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. And Simon and his companions hunted for Him; and they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” And He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.” And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.
3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.
16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

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