Sunday, August 19, 2007

How I Preach

I preached for my home church today, Heritage Baptist Church. Our pastor was on vacation and I filled in for him. As far as I know, it went well.

I was a pastor for five years before I went to seminary. I got experience speaking in front of crowds and I also gained experience in organizing my thoughts for preaching. However, I did not feel like I knew how to preach. I went to Seminary for the express purpose of learning to preach "better" and to learn the biblical languages.

My preaching professor at Seminary was Dr. Raymond Spencer. Dr. Spencer graduated from Southwestern the same time I graduated, only he received his doctorate when I received my Masters. In 2003, Dr. Spencer passed away.

Please take some time and click the following links to read about who Dr. Spencer was and what kind of man he was:

Dr. Raymond Spencer's Death Announcement
Who was Dr. Rayond Spencer

I preach the way I do today because of Dr. Spencer. I hope you have read about him from the above links.

This is what Dr. Spencer taught me about arranging my thoughts in a sermon.

First, he said a sermon should be equally divided into Explanation, Illustration, and Application. There are times when sermons are preached where one aspect that has been given more weight than the others. If Explanation or Exposition the majority of the sermon, it ends up a dry sermon. If Illustation is emphasized more than the other aspects, the sermon becomes more entertaining but not very spiritual. When Applicaiton is accentuated, it becomes an utilitarian exercise. All three should be present and utilized appropriately to communicate God's Word in a way that connects with those listening.

Second, he said each point of the sermon should be applicable. That is, instead of saying something like, "The Christian's Responsibility," Dr. Spencer preferred "Evangelism is the Christian's Responsibility" or "We Must Share Our Faith with Others." This leaves the listener with more than just some information but instead some action which they will be able to apply.

Third, by my observation, Dr. Spencer preferred expositional sermons. He realized that there were other kind of sermons people preached. However, if one was to preach a topical sermon, it should still be expositional. That is, find a section of Scripture that deals with the topic and work through that passage expositionally.

Fourth, these when put together it looks something like this:
Beginning Illustration

Point One (verses 1-3)
Subpoint 1 (vv.1-2)
Subpoint 2 (v. 3)
Illustration of Point One
Application of Point One

Repeart Point one and announce point two

Point two (4-8)
Subpoint 1 (v.4)
Subpoint 2 (vv. 5-6)
Subpoint 3 (vv. 7-8)
Illustration of Point Two
Application of Point Two

Repeat point one and point two and announce point three


Concluding Illustration

This is how Dr. Spencer taught me to preach. This is how I prepare sermons and preach them. I realize that there are different ways to preach through a text. I am not saying this is the ONLY way in which one can preach. I AM saying that it is really the only way I know how to preach.

If one knew this and heard me preach, I would think they could hear this structure in my preaching. I do not do as good of a job as I would like in every sermon. There are times exposition is strong but my application is weak. There are times I have helpful illustrations but my explanation needs work. However, I am always attempting to become a better communicator of God's word. And I think that begins with how I structure my thoughts.

Anyway...that is how I preach....for what it is worth.