How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 10, Create the Title

By DrBillComments Off

Hi Preachers!blank billboard

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon. We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and Part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2,Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries; Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition; Part 6, Develop the Mains; Part 7, Provide Supporting Material, and Part 8, Write the Conclusion, Part 9, Write The Introduction.


Finally, you can choose the title. The only point of the title is to advertise and promote the sermon and let people know in a very brief way what it is about. If you choose your title too early, you may find yourself preaching to the title, rather than the text. Don’t confuse the two.

The Title that you choose can simply be descriptive, like the one I heard this weekend for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday:  “The Privilege and Responsibility of Being Human” by Dr. John Crocker at Crossroads Church in Albert Lea, MN.

It could be a portion of Scripture, like “Songs in the Night”, the famous sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon of the London Tabernacle.  The phrase “songs in the night” is from the Book of Psalms.

The Title could be a very directive title, How to be the Spiritual Leader of your Home, a message which I taught a while back, mainly to fathers, but also to single moms.


Once you have taken the time to write the sermon, you want people to come and listen to it!

So make sure you spread the title of your sermon far and wide so that everyone knows what you will be teaching on. This is your chance to use the title of the sermon to encourage people to come and hear the Word of God being taught.

What are some ways to do that?

sermon sign

  • Whenever I am teaching in a series, I always put in a little teaser near the end of my sermon, about what I will be teaching in the next one. That way people can see how the series is tied together, and will keep coming back, it is hoped.
  • Also, list next week’s sermon in this week’s bulletin.
  • If your church advertises in the newspaper, list your weekly sermon title in there. Many people out there do not want to come to a strange new church unless they have at least some idea of what it is all about. For example, if your sermon title is on parenting, “How to be a great Dad”, that is one thing. If the title, on the other hand, says something like, “How to pick up snakes during worship”, that would tell them something else.


Your job is to preach to the Biblical text, not the Title.  The only purpose of the Title is to let the people know what you will be speaking about. It is just there to advertise. Don’t get distracted by it; stay focused on the Biblical text.

Well, there you have it. That is the last of this ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon. I hope you enjoy it, and find it useful, as you teach God’s Holy Word!

For great preaching,

Dr. Bill Miller

General, Sermon Preparation

FaceBook Sermon Prep

By DrBillComments Off

Hey All,facebook logo

Just came across an article in Christianity Today online about using FaceBook to help with your sermon prep.

Here is the link.

He makes some good points, mainly Facebook helps with:

  • “Understanding the hearts of my people”
  • “Understanding the hearts of the unchurched”
  • “Bringing people to church”
  • “Generating sermon material”
  • “Extending the sermon’s impact”

What’s been your experience with Facebook?   Is it a plus for sermon prep, or a distraction, or something else?

For great preaching,

Dr. Bill Miller

General, Preaching

Five Principles of Biblical Stewardship for Your Small Business

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Rita Cartwright

Stewardship is a biblical perspective that can be applied to your business. Stewardship simply means managing possessions and property that are not yours. You may say, “My business belongs to me.” According to Psalm 24:1, the earth and everything on it belong to the LORD. The world and its people belong to him (CEV). Based on this scripture, your business belongs to God; therefore, you are a steward managing his business. He has blessed you with the talents, time, and treasures that you need to properly manage that which you are responsible for.

There are five principles of biblical stewardship: persistence, planning, proportionate, pleasantness, and purpose. Let’s see how we can apply them to your (God’s) business.

Persistence: Scripture teaches us that faithfulness is a necessary quality to possess as a steward. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful (I Corinthians 4:2 KJV). Being persistent and dependable is viewed as being faithful. If you have any doubts, you can’t move forward in your business. You have to believe it to achieve it. You have faith that you can be a successful entrepreneur and small business owner; therefore, you are persistent in making it happen.

Another symbol of your faith is your dependability. Your business is not fly-by-night; you are in it for the long haul. Your clients can depend on you being there and not skipping town. Also, they can depend on you to be faithful in completing their projects and tasks.

Planning: God wants everything to be done peacefully and in order (I Corinthians 14:33 CEV). Planning goes without saying in any size or type of business. It is highly advisable to have a business plan as entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as a marketing plan. A plan will keep you focused and on track; therefore, your business plans will be accomplished peacefully and in order.

Proportionate: If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better (I Corinthians 16:2 CEV). The proportion of talents, time, and treasures God blesses you with will determine what services and/or products you will offer to your target market. Remember, He gives you what you need to be good stewards. At the same time, you are serving God by providing your clients with excellent service and/or products, which come from your proportion of talents, time and treasures that He has given you.

Pleasantness: Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give (II Corinthians 9:7 CEV). Be pleasant in your business dealings, especially with your clients. It’s what’s known as providing excellent customer service. Don’t force it, give your pleasantness freely. Your clients would much rather conduct business with someone who is pleasant rather than with someone who is rude. Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31 NIV). When completing their projects and tasks, do it cheerfully. God sent you that client as a way of providing you with treasures.

Purposeful: When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God (I Corinthians 10:31 CEV). As a steward over God’s business, it’s important to honor Him by operating it with honesty and integrity. I remember reading in “The Prayer of Jabez,” written by Bruce Wilkinson where Bruce was having a conversation with some business executives. One of the executives asked Bruce, “Is it right to ask God for more business?” Bruce responded, “Absolutely! If you’re doing your business God’s way, it’s not only right to ask for more, but He is waiting for you to ask.”

Conclusion: Biblical stewardship deals with use of your money; however, it is a perspective that covers your entire life, including your business. As I have pointed out, the five principles of biblical stewardship can be applied to your business. This should be our business plan as entrepreneurs and small business owners. From time to time, we need to refer back to our plans to ensure we are on the right track. God has entrusted his business to you by appointing you as steward to manage it. The more God bless your (His) business, the more He wants you to bless individuals, the community and the world at large. This style of stewardship will bring honor and glory to His name. It is also a manner of serving God.

Original article here.

General, Preaching

How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 9, Write The Introduction

By DrBillComments Off

Hey Up-and-Coming Preachers!     hand shake

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and Part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2,Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries; Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition; Part 6, Develop the Mains; Part 7, Provide Supporting Material, and Part 8, Write the Conclusion. Today: How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 9, Write The Introduction.

Yes, the introduction often comes right at the end, after you have written the Conclusion. The main goal here is to get their attention and to introduce the topic, thus “introduction”. Once you know the main thrust of the sermon and the main points, it is much easier to write the introduction.

Consider the Goal

The Introduction must fit strategically with the rest of your sermon. Too many pastors think that ‘attention-getting’ is the only goal, and thus try to do something lame like just share some cutesy humor or joke which they discovered on the internet. But once you have written the Conclusion, then the Introduction is the most natural next step. This is because, having written the Conclusion, you know where the sermon will end up, and so you begin with the end in mind. If your Introduction and Conclusion have a similar theme, then your sermon has parallelism; there is a natural matching between the two. People’s minds will come back to what you began with and begin drawing conclusions, which is what you want to happen. This is why in our SermonBase Message Planning Software, it is possible to view the Conclusion and the Introduction on the same screen so that you can view the connections and similarities between these two parts of your sermon.

Connect with the Listeners

During the Introduction, you must identify with the listeners. If you can make an emotional connection with the listeners in the Introduction, then they will be prepared to receive what you have to say in the rest of the sermon. If you are going to say something challenging in the sermon, then it is all the more important to relate to the audience so that they can connect and identify with you as a person.

Form a Natural Transition

The Introduction must lend itself naturally to the topic of the sermon. There must be an easy and logical flow from the topic of the Introduction to the topic of the sermon. It must make sense. Don’t give the listeners whiplash where you are talking about one thing over in this direction, and then suddenly we are facing the other way and talking about spiritual things with no warning. For example, a personal story about a recent sports injury may lend itself naturally to talking about physical and then spiritual health.

Introduce the Text

The purpose of the Introduction is to move people’s minds from the everyday mundane to the sacred Scriptures. So the topic must lead to the Scripture text upon which you intend to teach. Now it is important to note that in the Introduction you introduce text, you do not explain the text. That comes later during the Main Points of your sermon. Just introduce the text at hand, and explain why it relates to what you are going to discuss for the day. Then move quickly from the Text to the Proposition to the Main Points.

Don’t go too long

Some preachers spend way too much time on the Introduction. Use it as a tool to get you to where  you need to go, which is the Proposition. Then launch into your sermon. Preachers make the mistake of going to long when they lose sight of the purpose of the Introduction, which is “introduce”, not “explain”.

If you have already followed through on the other eight parts of the sermon preparation process, then the Introduction portion should come pretty easy. For by this time, you have a clear sense of purpose; you have the Proposition, the Main Points, the supporting material, and the Conclusion. The Introduction will then almost jump out at you as to how you might begin the sermon.

The final article in this series relates to the Title, which can trip you up if you don’t know its true purpose.

God’s best to you as you prepare to share God’s Word with His people!

Dr. Bill Miller

General, Sermon Preparation

Are Christians commanded to Tithe?

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Robert Randle

One of the most widely participatory faith practices among Christians is “tithing,” and yet, it might be one of the least understood. There is certainly nearly unanimous agreement that this ordinance was commanded by God to the ancient Israelites and believers are taught that it is a requirement for us today; but what do the Scriptures say on this matter? A common reasoning is found in the Old Testament book of Malachi 3: 8, which states, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed Thee?’ In tithes and offerings. This pronouncement had to do with the decline and neglect of the temple services and offerings by the post exilic Jews who had returned to Palestine after a long period of foreign captivity.

There are at least two passages in the gospels of the New Testament book of Matthew, 5: 17-20, where verse 20 is used more convincingly to administer the ‘tithe’ among Christians because Jesus told His disciples, “”For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Also in Matthew 23: 1-3, 23, Jesus wasn’t so much as teaching about tithing or even giving, but rather He was teaching against hypocrisy. If Jesus gave any favorable impression with the principle of tithing or giving, it is to be one borne of true faith and sacrifice as evidenced in Mark 12: 41-43, where He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury.” In practical matters because of the social, cultural, and market economy in which we live today, it would be almost an impossibility to exceed the scribes and Pharisees in their tithing practices anyway. So let’s see how the practice of taking up an offering really got started among the First Century believers.

Acts 11: 1, 27-30
“Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there certainly would be a great famine all over the world [land]. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Jerusalem. And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders (Cp. 12: 25).”

The following New Testament Scriptures [Paul’s letters] deal with this event over a period of several years which forms the historical background and theological basis for this practice today (Cp. Gal 2: 10??; I Corinthians 16: 1-4; II Corinthians 1: 15-16; 8: 1 – 9: 15). Even in Acts 15: 13-14, 19-20, 28-29; 21: 18, 25, the Mother Church in Jerusalem decreed that the Gentile believers observe certain essentials of the faith and at no time was tithing mentioned.

The one thing that must be mentioned is the collection for the saints [in Judea] was never a command but voluntary (II Corinthians 8: 7-8; 10) and the only requirement then as well as today is found in II Corinthians 8: 12; 9: 7-8, which reads, “For if the readiness [of mind] is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart [so let him give]; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything; you may have abundance for every good deed.

So, what does the New Testament teach regarding supporting the Gospel or those who minister in the Word of God?

I Corinthians 9: 7-15a, 17a-18
Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the Law say the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain (Cp. Deuteronomy 25: 4).” Is it oxen that God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so for me. For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.

II Corinthians 11: 7-9
Did I commit sin humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one; for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

NOTE: This is a far cry from those members of the clergy and Church leadership today who use the Scriptures to psychologically coerce the believers into ‘tithing’ or put a “guilt trip” and fear of condemnation on the flock if they do not participate in this offering. Are they like those in Micah 3: 11a, which reads, Her priests teach for pay and her prophets’ divine for money?

There is one other reference in the New Testament on this matter of financial support, and that pertains to the office of a “special” class of Elder, as in I Timothy 5: 17-18, which says: Let the Elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor [just what is this?], especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain Cp. Deuteronomy 25: 4,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

NOTE: Curiously, that last part which was added on is found in Luke 10: 7b, which reads: For the laborer is worthy of his wages. A similar account, though not as literally, word for word as Luke account is found in Matthew 10: 10b, which says, For a worker is worthy of his food. So, just as those who preach the gospel of God have the right to be supported, the Elder who among his other responsibilities (Cp. I Timothy 3: 1-7; Titus 1: 5-9), both proclaims the Gospel and teaches [instructs in doctrine] is to receive the material things they need just as the Apostles, other ministers, evangelists, and missionaries who spread the “Good News.”

Original article here.


The Three Types of Expository Preaching You Could Use

By DrBillComments Off

Hey Preachers and Teachers!

There are three types of Expository sermons:  Book Exposition, Biographical Exposition, Topical Exposition.

I know that there are various definitions of ‘expository preaching’, so just to clarify, when I say ‘exposition’ I am referring to a verse-by-verse study of a particular passage of Scripture. You work your way through a single passage of the Bible; you don’t jump around all over the place; you teach the Word of God where it stands, letting the text before you form your major points and even form the structure of your sermon. That is expository preaching.  Having said that, even with that definition, there are three different ways you can do this style of preaching.

Let’s look at each of these:

  • Book Exposition

This is the one which most people are familiar with. You take a book of the Bible and work through it from the first verse to the final. In some cases, you may take key passages which communicate the main message of the book. This is sometimes helpful for larger books when you don’t have time in your church calendar schedule to work through every single verse. For example, years ago I worked through the Book of Joshua. The book has 24 chapters, but I took a 9-week expositional walk-through of the book by hitting the 9 Key Faith Themes from Joshua. It was called “Living on the Edge of Faith” and was very good. You can get that series, by the way, at my site.

So that is Book Exposition; well-known and well-loved.

  • Biographical Exposition

This is a bit more tricky and requires some advance prep work before you get into the series, because you have to find all the relevant places in the Scripture where the person is referred.  It could be all over the Old and New Testament, so you will want to find your key themes first, then prep your major points, as your create the Series.  For example, think of how Daniel is referenced in various places in both the OT and the NT. Then, once that prep work is ready you can do an exposition of that person’s life by taking each of the key passages about him or her, and doing a complete exposition on each passage.

  • Topical Exposition

Does that sound like a contradiction to you? How can it be both topical and expository? Well it can, but you have to be careful on how you handle it. Sometimes this third version is called “textual topical” just to emphasize that in expository topical preaching the Text is still primary. You see, in much topical preaching, the teacher simply pulls out a concordance, and locates all key passages where that topic is used and then in the course of one sermon, takes you on a hunt throughout the Bible. While that is always a lot of fun, it is not expository topical preaching; that is just plain ‘topical’.  In ‘expository topical preaching’ you stay with one passage, which is focused on a key topic. For example, think of Paul’s argument about the power of Sin in Romans 7. That would make a good passage for an exposition of the topic of Sin.

Topical Exposition has its own dangers, so we will address those in a future blog. For now, give some thought to each of the three types of Expository Preaching, and give them a try if you’d like.

Yours for great preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller


General, Preaching, Sermon Preparation

Power of Positive Preacher Part 3

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

Power of Positive Preacher Part 3
by Thomas Garrity
What it means to be a preacher or preach: Of uncertain affinity; to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): – preach (-er), proclaim, publish.
2Ti 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Finally we get to the preacher. Just about the rest of this scripture is in concern with the preacher. He is to instruct for righteousness becoming perfect in God and furnished (equip) for duty or work.God has called certain men in becoming the messenger for him self.This doctrine is not mans and even Jesus said that is was not His doctrine it was the lords: John 7:16 “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me(GODS).” Even like Jesus!
God uses man kind to deliver His message.How many times have you sat through a church service and felt as if the preacher was speaking directly at you? The truth is that GOD was trying to reproof and correct you for instruction in righteousness. He was communicating directly to you.Yet people will say they felt as if the pastor was judging them. This is not Truth, preachers are simply messengers of GOD.
Preachers have GREAT responsibility in being a messenger for GOD. With no surprise, people look back at the preacher after their own conviction to judge the pastor rather then looking to God for an explanation of the conviction they just received. That is just like the mail man handing you your mail and because their is a bill he handed you, that you have been fighting a company on you then turn on the mail man and sick your dog on him. This is wrong. We must remember a preacher is called from GOD. There are times as expressed in the earlier lesson about false teachers that we must be aware of, yet the most important way is to seek the Lord in study thyself, prayer and fasting. If you combat in any other way you will make things worse for your self and others. Seek ye first the kingdom of GOD and His righteousness and all these other thing will come.
To conclude: The Power of a positive preacher 2Ti 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”Isa 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (specific duties given by GOD not man). 2Ti 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2Ti 3:17 “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
If we would simple trust God by obeying His word, His inspiration and become doers not hears only, weather a preacher or teacher we will be part of The power of the positive preacher. Which is GOD.


Necessary Freedom

By Gladys Perez-NejudneComments Off

by Phillip Ross

Paul said that “necessity” (1 Corinthians 9:16) was laid upon him. He was talking about preaching the gospel, and the gist of his words suggest that he preached not out of desire, but out of necessity. It was necessary for him to preach the gospel. He could not do otherwise. What is necessary is required. What is necessary is not optional.

“Woe to me,” he said, “if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). To not preach would put him under God’s woe, God’s curse. For Paul not to preach would be an act of disobedience, and act of unfaithfulness, and would open him to God’s chastisement.

To love God is to live in obedience to His Word. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them” (1 John 3:24). “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments” (2 John 1:6).

1 Corinthians 9:16 tells us that Paul understood that God had commanded him to preach, and he could not do otherwise. This raised the question that Paul answered in verse 17. Was he acting freely or out of necessity? Was he acting out of his own free will? Or was he being constrained by God’s will? His answer was, “For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship” (v. 17).

He was talking about his call to preach the gospel. He was saying that if his preaching issued from his own will, he would receive a reward. The Greek word literally means wages. Jesus said, “the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages (misthos) and gathering fruit for eternal life” (John 4:35-36). Paul was saying that if he was preaching out of his own desire, out of his own willingness to obey God’s call, then he would receive a just reward. And that is good. He would be rewarded for his obedience.

However, if Paul did not preach out of his own will — but wait a minute! What does that mean? How can someone do something if they don’t will to do it?

There are two possible meanings here. One, that Paul was preaching unwillingly, as in begrudgingly. We all know that obedience can be done begrudgingly. We can do something even if we really don’t want to do it. We can do something when our hearts are not in it. It’s a attitude thing. Is that what Paul meant? I don’t think so because Paul doesn’t have a begrudging attitude. That’s not what we find in Paul’s preaching or anywhere in his writings.

The second possible meaning is that Paul was preaching, not out of his own will, but out of God’s will, or in response to God’s will. Note that Paul doesn’t understand these two wills to be in opposition, but in harmony. And what is more, he seems to be saying that it is not his own will that is taking the lead in his cooperation with God, but that it is God’s will that is in the lead and his own will that is following. It was not that God was helping him to preach (though surely He was), but rather that he — Paul — was engaged in service to the will of God, in the cooperation of his will with God’s will.

It wasn’t so much that God was helping him, but that he was helping God. God’s will was in the superior position. God was leading. God was dominant. Paul was subservient. He was following, but he wasn’t following begrudgingly. He was following in willing obedience, gladly following. If you ask me to do something, and I do it willingly, whose will is accomplished? Yours. My will would be involved through my compliance, but doing the thing was not my idea. It was your idea. I would be doing your will. And I would not be doing it of my own accord, but in response to your request.

Paul understood himself to be a steward, a manager of someone else’s property. He had a stewardship entrusted to him. He had an obligation to properly care for and to properly invest the gospel, which was not his own but God’s. He was preaching out of obligation, out of duty — yes! But that does not mean that he was doing it unwillingly or begrudgingly. Rather, it was for Paul a source of great joy, though it caused him much trouble, much difficulty and pain.

It was a labor of love. It was hard work, and he would be rewarded for his labor. But that was not why he did it. He didn’t preach so that he would receive a personal reward. He preached because he was compelled to preach. He was obligated to preach, called to preach. He could do no other. It was his duty to invest his Master’s talent, his Master’s possessions, to increase his Master’s holdings. Though he would be rewarded for his efforts, he was not motivated by his own reward, but by the obligation of his stewardship of the gospel. He put aside his former concerns and took the concerns of his Master to be his own. He put aside his own priorities and took up God’s priorities.

General, Preaching, Proposition

How to Prepare a Sermon: Part 2, Textual vs. Topical

By DrBillComments Off

A sermon should be text-based. By that, I mean that you would be teaching the Bible. That is the philosophy of ministry, and church tradition from which I come.  People don’t come to hear me, they come to learn from God’s Word.  Other churches may have other feelings, but this is

I am of the firm belief that almost every sermon should be clearly centered around a certain text of the Scripture. Now I do not object when other supplemental texts are brought in to enhance the message, but I believe that the primary reason why people come to church is to hear a message from God. And there is no other clearer way to demonstrate that a message is from God than by using a good-sized chunk of Scripture in your message.

I am very aware that there are some very famous preachers out there who use a lot of little verses to support what they have said on a certain topic.  And I do that occasionally also.  But for the sake of congregational health, I believe you want to do what you can to deliver portions of God’s Word to the people when you preach.  Here’s why:

1.  People read less Bible during the week than you think they do.

Most people in ministry enjoy reading the Bible and spend time every day in the Word.  For many of the people out there in the seats, that is not the case. Their weekdays are often filled with rushing off to work, first thing in the morning, and then coming home to busy activities with the kids and family, before falling into bed exhausted to do it again.  This is not to excuse people who do not regularly read the Word. It is just reality, and I believe that it is good for preachers to be aware of reality.  So when they come to church, I like to give them the Word.

2.  People need to understand the Word in context.

When you teach from a portion of Scripture, you are better able to explain the context.  Context includes historical, cultural, linguistic, and Biblical context. If you speak to a lot of different texts in your message, it is very difficult to provide that much explanation for each of the many verses you pursue.

3.  If the sermon is more text-based, then there is likely to be less of my thoughts, and more of God’s thoughts.

Frankly I don’t have a lot of faith in the high-quality impact of my thoughts. But I have a lot of faith in God’s capacity to speak to the depths of the human heart.  ”For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12) So I like to give them a nice portion of God’s Word in my messages.

4.  It is easier to prepare a text-based sermon, than a topically-based sermon.

If you believe in expository preaching, then you know that your sermon outline should simply reflect the outline of the passage. This makes preparation much easier than trying to develop your own set of mains and subs.  Let the Bible speak for itself, with its particular emphasis. The end result is that your message will be more powerful.

5.  A text-based sermon delivers sustaining power long past the sermon.

If I preach on a topic, they may forget the message.  But if I preach on a passage, then the next time they read that passage, portions of my message will come back to them. It could be the application of that message, for example. But as they read God’s Word, their understanding of His Word will increase, because they have already had someone teach them the contextual, historical, linguistic aspects of that passage of God’s Word.

This is on on-going topic, and while I lean towards the textually-based sermon, I have done both textual and topical.  But if I had to choose in terms of sustaining impact and power, I would choose the textually-based message every time.

For powerful preaching,

Dr. Bill Miller

General, Preaching, Sermon Preparation
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