Where does a good sermon originate from?
I need help with something; please read this! I know that if you are reading this, you are interested in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, you want to make sure Christianity is being represented well to the world at large. A large part of this is a church that hears a good sermon every Sunday.
Now here is where I need your help. Please give me your thoughts on this matter. The matter at hand is how we think about the power of the Bible. Do you believe the Bible is powerful in itself? Or do you think we have to make it powerful? I go back and forth on this, so I am writing this. Let me explain two different ways of looking at it. Before I do, let me say this, you may not be a preacher, but if you attend a church, you need to encourage your pastor to do the right thing.
- Should sermons and lessons start from the preacher’s mind, a current event, something they read, or something they have faced recently?
- Should sermons or lessons come from reading a passage, studying it, and teaching it from context?
Let Me Explain
Let me write a few more details about these questions. The first question is about preachers building sermons from a concept. I once heard a preacher preach a message based on a bumper sticker he read. I have heard others say that something they read would make a great idea for a sermon or a series of sermons. Here is an example of this in the real world.
My concern with this approach is that many times if not most time, the preacher then turns to passages they are familiar with and uses those to support their message. That is a great danger because the text can often be pulled out of context, which is not a good sermon. Also, vast amounts of the Bible never get taught because the preacher uses what he already knows and is familiar with.
I ask the question, aren’t all passages important? Take Romans chapter three, verses one to nine. When was the last time you heard a message preached from them? Do you even understand them and why Paul was writing them? How about from Ezekiel chapter one?
Basically, there are three types of messages.
- Messages are created from an idea outside of the Bible, and verses are found to support it.
- Secondly, there are topical messages where time is taken to develop a large amount of context to draw conclusions from.
- Thirdly, there are expository messages which come from a passage-by-passage study of the Bible.
I count numbers two and three to be almost the same because they force a good sermon to be created from context rather than something else. So please let me know what you think. Which is the best approach to teaching the Bible, and what would you prefer to hear?
I will be a little tough here. Sometimes we have many things to do but take little time to discuss or think about spiritual issues. I know because it is hard for me to find Christians willing to discuss the Bible. I heard Willam Lang Craig recently say theism or atheism is our problem; it is apathyism.