Learning to Preach


I have finished my class at Lipscomb on Preaching, but I continue to process the information. Even more difficult than processing what I learned is attempting to put it into practice.

If I were to distill the lessons I learned in class in a few bullet points, it would look something like this:

  • Be Textual. Start with a text, dwell in the text, meditate on the text, and allow the message of the sermon to flow from the text.
  • Use Your Imagination. Preaching is not just a cerebral presentation of the facts (although it may include some of that). It is an art that should engage the heart while entering into the world of the text and interacting with the world of the audience.
  • Form is Important. Content is essential, but form should not be dismissed. How the material is presented should be intentional and reflect the content and mood of the message. The sermon should take its cue from the Bible, which has many diverse, but intentional forms for the presentation of its material.
  • Be Coherent. The sermon should have a single, unified message. The focus and function of the sermon can be written out in short, succinct statements. The focus statement identifies the controlling theme of the sermon and tells what the sermon should say. The function statement identifies what is desired as a response by the hearer. It states what the sermon should do.
  • Don’t make bullet-points. Doing so often fails to account for the form of the text or the process of discovery in the text. It may unnecessarily reduce the text to a proposition.

That’s some of what I learned and some of what I will be trying to implement in my future sermon preparation and delivery. We’ll see how it goes.

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8 Responses to Learning to Preach

  1. Good observations. It sounds like it was a productive class.

    • Jeremy says:

      Thanks Joel. I think it was productive. Part of me wishes I could have taken it much earlier, but I think it came at a good time when I was ready to engage what I learned.

  2. The first thing I thought when I read the title was, “Man. If you figure this out,let me know!”

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how I preach lately. I’ve always been a content over form guy, although I’ve never completely dismissed form. I like your point about remembering form because it helps me with something I’m wrestling with – paying attention to form doesn’t mean I have to preach with alliteration, acrostics, three points and a poem.

    I think that KIND of form is what I’ve been struggling against all these years. It excites me to hear these guys coming out now who are meticulous in preparing their message, but they are doing it in different (sometimes more biblicaly faithful) ways.

    Please keep sharing what you have learned!

    • Jeremy says:

      Thanks for the thoughts Mr. Schnitzel. One way I think about form is this way. I used to study and study a passage, and when I was finished, I was done with my sermon. Now, I study and study a passage, and when I am finished, I begin my sermon preparation. After knowing *what* I want to say, I spend a lot more time trying to figure out *how* I want to say it. Through this process, I’ve become a big fan of Fred Craddock. He addresses many of these issues.

      • Luke says:

        I’m currently in the midst of a preaching class at Harding School of Theology, and am encountering many of the same lessons you mentioned in your post.

        Also developing a major appreciation for Craddock; that man excels at weaving storytelling into his message.

      • Jeremy says:

        Thanks for the input, Luke. I purchased Craddock’s text called Preaching after the class so I could read some more of him. I hope your class goes well. You’ll have to let me know what else you learn from it.

  3. longwalker76 says:

    Excellent points! Thank you for posting!

  4. Patrick says:

    Good thoughts, especially about not preaching in bullet points. I’ve found that when I use PowerPoint in my sermons, it naturally encourages this tendency and leads me to shape the form of my sermons in ways I have to consciously resist. Is the use of technology like PowerPoint in preaching something you discussed in your class? It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the past few years, and while I’ve found indispensable guidance about creating effective slideshows from secular authors (Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds), I’ve found next to nothing on it by preachers.

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