Getting The Sermon Out Of The Bible

So let’s say I’ve got a series. I’ve even got a title or a starting point for a particular message.

Where do I go from there?

The bible passage itself. In general I use one passage rather than collecting several unrelated verses and making a sermon out of them. It’s easier to “drill down” — and teach well — when you focus in on that one section of Scripture.

And somewhere in that section, there is a message for 21st Century people that is aching to come out. It’s my job to excavate it.

So I read the passage. I take notes. I read it some more. I try to understand its literary structure, still using a method I was taught at Asbury Seminary back in the 1980s. See — how a story or letter is put together is a significant part of what it is saying. So after jotting and charting and obsessing, I’ll consult some other experts.

My two favorite are the NIV Application Commentary and the New Interpreter’s Bible. Of the two, the “NIV App” is a bit better — but both are good.

Then after comparing my notes with what the experts say, I try to discern the one thing in that passage that is crying out to be preached. And I try to put that one thing in a short, memorable phrase that is neither trite nor trivial. Phrases like:

  • God makes room for the ones we shut out.
  • Your secrets are the enemy of your intimacy.
  • Love your money more.
  • When you see yourself as God sees you, you’ll unleash the hero within.

Then after I have that, that one thing, it’s time to figure out how to communicate it.

I’ll show you how that happens tomorrow.