Posted in Preparing to Preach

Three Advent Series Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No doubt. Who doesn’t love Christmas? But let’s be honest, preachers. . . how we do we say what’s already been said (many times, many ways . . . see what I did there?) and what everyone already knows in a compelling way? It’s hard. If you have pastored at a church for more than a couple of years, thinking of ways to say the “old, old story” in a captivating way can be difficult. So, let’s share some ideas with each other shall we? Below are three years’ worth of Advent...

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Determining HOW to Preach the Text: Look Around

You’ve determined what text to preach. You’ve determined how the passage fits in the context of the Bible book. You’ve determined the specific meaning of the passage. Although this is  hard work (I hate to say this, BUT. . . ), it is not the most difficult part of sermon prep. Resources abound to help you determine the meaning of a text. But NO ONE has written a book on how to preach it to YOUR people. There are tons of experts on the Bible you can glean from. Chances are, other than you, there are zero experts on your...

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Determine the Specific Meaning of the Text

“A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” The preacher’s job is to determine what the author meant when he was inspired by the Spirit to write what he wrote. Once the broad meaning of the text is determined, the next step is to get into specifics of the passage being prepared to preach. In other words, when you have figured out why the passage you are studying is there (broad meaning) – you need to get into the weeds for specifics. This will help you begin to see how the form of the sermon might look....

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Determine the Broad Meaning of the Text

Once you have decided what text to preach, the next step is to determine the purpose of the passage. Years ago I heard someone say, “A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” In other words, the preacher’s job is to figure out what the author of Scripture intended when he wrote it. “A text can never mean today what it never meant then” MUST drive your thoughts and study as you work through the text. So, how does the preacher go about figuring that out? Let me suggest you ask and answer each of the following...

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Exegesis? Eisegesis? The Real Jesus?

I’ll never forget one of the first days at seminary. I heard a couple of words that had never entered my ears before. “Exegesis” (pronounced “X-a-Jesus”) and “Eisegesis” (pronounced “Ice-a-Jesus”). I immediately thought I had enrolled in the wrong seminary because they were talking about a false Jesus. I just knew of One and was told all my life there was only One! “Oh no!” I thought. “I was warned that something like this might happen! I moved my wife to a place that believes there are multiple Jesus’!!!” Thankfully, before I packed up everything and stormed out of that...

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Just Get on Base

Without doubt, one of the most freeing pieces of advice on preaching I have ever received was to simply “get on base.” Jim Shaddix, one of my preaching professors at NOBTS, wisely told us preacher boys that when you try to hit a home run every Sunday, you will usually strike out. But when you just try to get on base, you will eventually score some runs. That, preacher friend, will free you up. Jim Shaddix is right. The harder you swing for the seats, the more you will swing and miss. But focusing on getting your people to first...

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Great Sermon Series Idea

At the end chapter 12 of Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered, Martin Copenhaver summarizes his book with 3 foundational questions. As a matter of fact, I believe how he words it, the questions could serve as a tremendous 3-part sermon series. See if you don’t agree. Consider: There are three questions that Jesus repeats in the Gospels. Those three questions, read together, capture so much about what it means to encounter Jesus:  Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?” He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” And...

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Contrast For Clarity

A preacher’s job is to help people understand. Understand the meaning of a biblical text and understand how it applies to them. Oftentimes, especially if you are preaching to “churched” people, biblical truths being proclaimed are nothing new to the listener’s ears. They’ve heard it a million times before. Familiarity with a truth, however, does not mean the truth is being applied and practiced. When your people know the truth but are far from applying the truth, contrast. Contrast what the Bible means to what the people are actually doing. Help them see, in other words, that though they “know”...

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Searching for Illustrations: Pay Attention!

Every preacher experiences two extremes. The incredible high of delivering a perfect illustration that makes the point of the passage pop. And the depressing low of having an illustration you were excited about fall flatter than pancake. Sermon illustrations are tricky. They can help the sermon shine and they can cause the sermon to suffer. On top of that, the search for illustrations can add hours to a preacher’s already busy week. The purpose of illustrations is to help the congregation get the point and pay attention to the passage. To help the people pay attention, I remind myself to...

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7 Hacks for Preaching Narrative Texts

Everyone loves a good story, and every story in the Bible is good. I mean, like, better-than-Hollywood good. Not only do stories, by their very nature, keep the listener’s engaged, but they also allow for our God-given imaginations to run wild. Preaching narrative texts are by far my favorite passages to preach. Since over 70% of the Bible is written in narrative form, that’s a good thing. Enjoying a good story and preaching one in front of a congregation, however, are very different. It’s a great feeling when you are ready to preach a narrative text. It can be a sinking...

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