What Is This Sermon About?
You have now arrived at the top of the ladder. It’s time to compose your sermon. You have mined the depths, studying words, phrases, clauses, backgrounds, grammar, theology and lots more. At some point, you will have a clarified idea of the meaning of this text, its structure, and overall thrust. After identifying the intent of the text, your next task is to write your sermon around that intent.
You must figure out why the author’s intent matters to every person in your congregation—to indifferent teenagers, to distracted souls, to the unconverted, to tired fathers.
This step revolves around a few simple questions involving reason and rationale: What exactly is this sermon about? Why should your congregation listen to this sermon?
Your job at this stage is to work until you can articulate what this sermon is about and why this sermon matters. Try to leave this step with one clear, compelling sentence that isolates the sermon’s intent. The thesis of your sermon must be inseparably tied to the author’s thesis. Though Paul was writing to Philippi and you are preaching to a congregation in Modesto or Manhattan, your thesis must be tethered to Paul’s. As you seek to isolate this thesis, you will likely realize that your text is saying more than just one thing. Push yourself to synthesize what the author is saying into a coherent, main point. Even as you do this, you’ll realize that often the main point must be several sentences or a paragraph. The length is less important than the clarity with which you capture the thrust of the text. But push yourself toward simplicity and brevity.
Take Ruth chapter 2 for example. What is this chapter doing in the Bible? Are we supposed to glean and reap in middle eastern fields? Is this advice on dating in rural areas? What we see in this chapter is a generous man, Boaz, and a marginalized woman, Ruth. We see the providence and kindness of God manifested in Boaz’s provision. Thus, if you were to preach this text, it would likely be a sermon about the providence of God. But we can’t stop with there. It doesn’t help people in Lafayette to know that God was kind and providential to Ruth, unless you also dig into the implications of God’s providence and kindness in the lives of God’s people today. This chapter is not just about sloppy reapers dropping barley everywhere. This chapter shows that God heard the prayer of his people, and that his kindness was dispensed through very normal, mundane means.
After clarifying the intent of your sermon, it is time to begin to organize the structure of your message.