LECTURE 1 ON SERMON PREPARATION The Study of Preaching

Why study the science of preaching or homiletics? Because it is the proclamation of a message from God. It is Biblical truth aimed at behavioral change whether conversion or growth. The 3 elements are God’s message, the preacher, and human beings’ needs. The three terms for it in the NT are kerussein meaning to proclaim, euanggelidsesthai meaning to tell the good news, and edidaske meaning to teach. Every sermon should do all three. People who have grown up in a church may understand the importance of preaching, but our culture has so many diversions that dumb down the people it places the preacher in the awkward position of competing  with multi-media which is exactly why so many people stay home and watch TV on Sunday morning. Preaching should be a major concern and should be viewed as an event in which God works and if the preacher does not do that, then nobody else will either. It has been my experience in listening to many different preachers that many do not understand the difference between preaching and teaching. They teach what the Bible says but they do not preach it. The reasons are many but they include; inadequate preparation, lack of enthusiasm, lack of organization, and lack of relevancy and application. This is why the study of homiletics became a mainstay of seminary curriculums.  You will notice in the preaching of the Apostle Paul there are 3 elements that were present in Greek oratory, in which rhetoric was the great aim. These were Grammar (Literary competency), Dialectic (Reasoning), and Rhetoric (extemporizing and appealing, as in a lawyer in court). If you look at Acts 17:22-31, where Paul is in Athens, the message demonstrates all of the above. Sources available for improvement include the study of homiletics, classic sermons, listeners’ critiques, workshops, and audio and visual rehearsals and retrospectives.

Now there are clear steps to a useful preaching ministry. They are: Recognizing that the Word of God is the power, preaching it in a logical and orderly way that recognizes the overall organization of the Word, and properly applying it. It must be preached in faith that it will accomplish its purposed.objective., and it must be supported by prayer. No one is adequate to the task. In II Corinthians 2:15 and 16 the Apostle Paul reminds us, For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? . However the power is in the Word. As Chapell says, “In some ways it seems ridiculous to think that eternal destinies will change because we voice thoughts from an ancient text.”  But am reminded of I Corinthians 1:21, where the Apostle states,  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Notice Paul says the foolishness of what was preached, not, foolish preaching. God’s Word is the story of creation and redemption which manifests the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and by the way must reflect the triune God and His revelation in its presentation, as well as Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

So the first step is unity. A rehearsal of information is not a sermon. One must find the unifying theme of the text because unity is vital to the speaker and the hearers. I hear preachers all the time who are great at explaining the Bible, but do they know how to examine a text so that they can see what the main point is? The second step is relevance. How does this sermon relate to the hearers? It always relates to everybody in the audience in some way. Why is this text important to all the people listening? The third step is application. This means that once you have decided how this is relevant to the people, you find something in their experience that will enable the concept to lodge in their thinking.