How Does One Prepare an Expositional Sermon? What's the Process?
- 2017 15 Aug
The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety.
I have the privilege of teaching preaching now here at LU, at LBTS, and I really love it because I think it's ... I'll put it to you this way. P. T. Forsyth said this, and this is a “King Kevin paraphrase.” He says, “it's not too bold to say that Christianity stands or falls on preaching.” Now, if he's correct, then I think by any understanding or any quantification we would need to look at America and go, "Something's not quite right."
We have examples of some great churches all across the land, but, collectively and in an aggregate way, we continue to lose market share every year. The population grows as the Church is expanding. Still, the average sized church in America is what? It fluctuates from year to year between 90 and 100, and I realized there are some areas where the population just isn't there, but I think that does say something. And the Church seems to in some sense has the tendency to be marginalized, pushed to the peripheries of the conversation, and we need to be in the midst of the public square. So, as I teach exposition, here's how I do it.
The first thing we do is we diagram the passage. Because I need to get in the text up to my elbows, and I learned that from my major preaching professors as Dr. McDill, as Dr. Akin, Dr. York, Hershael York. Those names may not mean anything to your listeners right there, but these guys had a major influence on me. The impetus was to get in the text, follow the flow of the text, and then, once I do that, I need to start asking questions. What does this text say? What are the issues? What's the larger cultural context, literary context, theological context?
Just from a literary context, I'm going to preaching ... if I'm preaching through the Gospels, I need to know what was the intent of the author. What was his goal in writing that? John tells us very clearly his goal was to foster belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. He says that in John chapter 20 as an apologetic for belief, so as John puts his gospel together, that is the overarching theme as he strings it together.
As a preacher, I need to know that, and then, not only do I need to know the overarching theme, I also need to know how this particular passage that I'm going to preach not only fits in its chapter or paragraph. But in the section of the book, book at large, in the New Testament and then in the entire corpus of Scripture. I need to know all those things. I need to know the history of it.
The reason I need to know all those things is because it helps me then relate it to my audience, so I'm digging in the text. I discover what the textual idea is. I know exactly what is going on in the text. The textual idea of John chapter 3 verses 1 through 8, Jesus explains to Nicodemus the necessity of regeneration to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That's what it is, but I won't know that unless I get down in there.
After I know the textual idea, then I've got to contemporized it. I contemporized it in this way. The regeneration is necessary to enter the Kingdom of God. That's a contemporary statement. That applies to every person, every time, every place, and then I need to walk through that text and let the text develop that. And so, in this case, in those particular verses, it would be regeneration is necessary because of the nature of humanity, and then the second major subdivision or point would be regeneration is necessary because of the nature of heaven or spiritual nature. And we won't know that unless we're in the text, diagramming, asking the questions, doing the research. And then we take a series of steps of asking questions of the text to help us to formulate the text idea, sermon idea, then I need my question to get me into it and then I formulate my sermon divisions or points.
It's difficult, and it takes time. It takes practice. I like what Mac Brunson said one time in response to a question. Somebody said, "How long does it take you to put a sermon together?" He said, "A lifetime," and I think that's accurate. It takes all we have been up until that particular point to put that thing together.
WATCH: How Professor Kevin King (Liberty University) Prepares an Expositional Sermon