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the right question? – travis black



My office gets way too crowded when I write a sermon…

I’ve done the study of a text and begin to craft the rough draft of a sermon, when I get the first knock.

First, it is my former professor of exegesis. He exclaims, “Have you made sure you have really listened to the text, done the word studies of important words of the Hebrew or Greek, understood rightly the historical background, and matched your sermon logic to the logic of the scripture?”

Without knocking, my former professor of New Testament comes in and shouts, “Have you made sure that you have properly placed the scripture in its Old Testament context? People can read the scripture on their own, but need you to show them where it fits in the whole story of scripture.”

Then, it is though the rest of my former professors walk in making me the subject of their staff meeting. “Have you spent 50% of your sermon exegeting the scripture and 50% exegeting the culture?”
“Have you drawn from the church fathers and church history to enrich your sermon?”
“Is Jesus Christ at the center of the sermon?”
“Do you have a clear thesis statement with well-marked points?”
“Have you incorporated the different ways people learn in how you will preach this?”

And if it wasn’t crowded enough, usually a couple of people from churches I have been a part of barge in and give advice:

“It isn’t too long, is it?” (This is repeated by several of them.)
“Do you have a lot of funny stories, I like those.”
“I like, pastor, more when you preach than just teach. I want to feel the power of God, not just learn about Him.”
“I love when you did that really creative sermon. Could you do something unique like that again?”

My wife and child also somehow squeeze into the crowded room saying, “Are you coming home? Do you really need to spend more time on that sermon? We miss you!”

And though all of these people aren’t actually in my office (my office isn’t that big), they are all very much there with me. Their voices fill my mind with those questions. All of them great questions, but taken as a whole, it is exhausting trying to answer each one of them satisfactory in a 28 minute sermon. Whether I am aware of it or not, I will prioritize certain questions over others.

I am interested, then, if you had to choose the ONE question that a sermon should convincingly answer, what would it be? Why?

One Comment

  1. Steve Ward says:

    The one question I think the preacher should ask is “So what?”
    In other words what are you trying to achieve in the minds and therefore the lives of your hearers? Thanks for an interesting post; presented in an interesting way.

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