What a great reception you gave the first issue of this little magazine! Here are some of the welcome comments.
I have forwarded it to several in this congregation suggesting that they may want to ask you to put them on your mailing list. Ken Williams
I am forwarding it to the men in our congregation who are interested in preparing and presenting lessons. Also to a young friend in Texas. Clarence Johnson
It should do good. Much of the preaching I hear suffers in organization. That makes it hard to listen to and hard to remember. I hope you can help all of us who read it. Sewell Hall
Good article, Paul. I will be working with a young man through the summer and I will share your good comments with him. Thanks for sending it. Steve Fontenot
Good Stuff. Mark Roberts
Thanks for the material! We pray that good will be done for the sake of the gospel. Larry Ray Hafley
A good beginning - with many good pointers. Gene Tope
May I have permission to reprint a small number of them for distribution to young men in the congregation here? Randy Blackaby, New Carlisle, OH
I think I might read it myself and get a better grip on what I need to expect from the pulpit, and maybe it will help me to pay better attention and gain more from each lesson. Maryandra (Kendall-Ball) Wiser
I enjoyed your first publication. It is well written and is packed with experience. I will float this out to others. Ken Craig
I used the section Who Should Preach? in an article Paul Williams sent out in this morning’s bulletin. Hendrik Joubert
Thank you, brethren. Your encouragement means a lot to me. May God bless this effort for good.–Paul Williams
Batsell Barret Baxter, in his book Speaking for the Master, has a short section called, “THE TRADITIONAL OUTLINE.” In a few words it gives an excellent summary of what a sermon outline should be. Here is that section found on pages 90-92.
Of the two basic plans of speech organization discussed in this chapter the traditional plan is by far the more widely used and the more generally useful. It has been standardized quite generally so that rules for constructing it can be named:
I. The Jordan River is interesting both because of its history and because of its physical make-up.
I. The Jordan River is interesting because of its history.
II. The Jordan River is interesting because of its physical make-up.
I. A. 1. a. (I) (A) (B) (II) b. 2. B. II.
Correct outlining requires a disciplining of the mind, but speakers must pay this price for effectiveness. Alert, ambitious speakers are happy to pay it. Lazy, indolent speakers prefer to get by with less effort. At first, the process may seem to be a bit difficult; but careful adherence to these rules through the early years of a speaking career will be deeply rewarding later when the system becomes habitual and easy.
After living and preaching in South Africa for four years, my family and I returned to America in 1972 where we spent almost one year. I preached some sermons for the Plainfield, Indiana church where I had been preaching before we left for South Africa. After one of my sermons one of the brethren came to me and said, “Paul, your preaching is simpler than it used to be.” I considered that the best compliment I received all year.
There is a great difference between a sermon and something which is written. In the writing of Paul there are words and ideas which take a lot of study to understand properly. Because the material is written, the reader can pause, read it again, think about it, and compare other verses. However while listening to a sermon we cannot do this. The sermon has to be simple and plain enough so the hearer can understand when it is spoken.
First of all, we should use words which are easy to understand. The greatest teacher the world ever knew used the simplest language. He taught the deepest truths in words which everyone understood.
When it is necessary to use technical words such as redemption, justification, reconciliation, or propitiation, we should carefully explain the words in a simple way.
The preacher must have a good vocabulary because he must study and understand many things. But when he explains those things in a sermon, he must remember that many in his audience will not understand all the words which he understands. When preaching, keep your vocabulary simple.
Keep it simple!
I have a “thing” about the purpose statement. I think it is VERY important, especially for the beginning preacher.
The purpose statement is a sentence which tells what you want to accomplish in the sermon. You may read this statement to the audience, or you may not, but it is what governs your entire sermon preparation and delivery.
You may have a purpose when you begin your study. As you gather your material, you may want to revise your purpose statement. But when you put your material together into an outline, it is essential that it is in a form which will accomplish your purpose. Only then do you have a real sermon.
Here are some sample purpose statements:
If you examine these purpose statements you will see that each clearly shows what you want to accomplish in that sermon. Each sermon will be entirely different from the others because you are aiming for a different result.
The purpose statement is important because it helps you to organize your sermon and keep you on the straight path to your conclusion.
In the ministry of Jesus preaching occupied a central place. Although greatly tempted to give primacy to other methods of approach to the world, he “came preaching.” In the synagogue at Nazareth he described himself as having been divinely ordained “to preach good tidings to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives… to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:16-21). And all the gospels give unforgettable pictures of the itinerant Preacher, in the synagogues, on the mountains, by the seaside, going from village to village, drawing after him almost unbelievably large crowds, and amazing the people by his words of grace and the authority of his teaching. John, writing many years afterwards, remembered vividly his Lord’s preaching in the temple during one of the great feasts. Of one day he reported that “Jesus cried in the temple, teaching and saying…"; and of another, the last day of the feast, that he “stood, and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink’” (John 7:28, 37). His preaching was a cry, urgent in its compassion and masterful in its urgency.
–John A. Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, pp. 1,2