How do you choose the text for sermons?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by tfisher, Feb 18, 2003.

  1. tfisher

    tfisher
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    I am just curious as to how the majority of pastors choose the scripture text for sermons. I know the Holy Spirit must be involved, but I am looking for more explanation as to the process. For instance, do you just find yourself standing around and get zapped by the Holy Spirit with a sermon idea, etc.? Do you preach through a book of the Bible at a time or some other method?

    I have never pastored a church, but I am majoring in theology in college and may be a pastor some day. I am just curious how someone who preaches 2 or 3 services a week comes up with sermons.

    Thank you.
     
  2. All about Grace

    All about Grace
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    I usually try and find a good illustration or story and then find a text that kinda goes with it. JUST KIDDING !!!!! [​IMG]

    I think the key is preaching in series. Those series may vary from straight exposition through a particular book -- topical series -- doctrinal series -- etc.

    A pastor must seek balance. When I was growing up in an IFB church, most of the sermons I heard were on Salvation, Separation, and Soul-Winning (with a weekly (& weakly defended) statement about the KJV tossed in for good measure [​IMG] ). Thankfully, I was taught the necessity of balanced preaching when I was delivered from the legalistic world that held me captive for several years.

    Preaching is a honor, privilege, and thrill. My problem is not finding what to preach. It is trying to decide what NOT to preach.

    But again I believe the key to balanced preaching is series, series, series.
     
  3. j_barner2000

    j_barner2000
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    as Intern who preaches very few sermons, I am more topical. As I get more opportunities I will go more into series. My pastors have stated and lead by example that is the most successful formula to develop.
     
  4. D.R.

    D.R.
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    I teach preaching at an African-American Bible College and what I have learned is that people desire exegetical preaching that is not boring. The best way to do that is to preach through a book you have poured your own life into for a while. If you plan out your sermons months in advance, as in you know you are going to go through John, then 1 John, then Peter, then something else, you will know ahead of time what to speak on and will be able to let the Holy Spirit work with you on the specific application of the text for your context. If you wait until the week of to decide what to preach, you end up spending more time looking for a topic than you do in the text. Many great preachers preach through books. They include John MacArthur, John Stott, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Piper, Jerry Vines, Jim Shaddix, and too many Puritans to name. For some great books on this you can check out John Stott's "Between Two Worlds," Vines and Shaddix's, "Power in the Pulpit," Piper's "Supremecy of God in Preaching," Lloyd-Jones, "Preachers and Preaching" and a new book called "Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching" by Soli Deo Gloria ministries. All of them are excellent resources about preaching.
    WE HOLLA
    dr
     
  5. rufus

    rufus
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    With over 30 years experience at preaching, I prefer expostion of Books of the Bible. Of course, the text is chosen for you with that method.

    I preach topical or textual messages on holidays and other special days set aside by the church such as homecoming. I pick my text by purusing a topical bible or an exhaustive concordance until I discover passages that fit the topic for the special day.

    Of course, as has been said, the Holy Spirit gives confirmation before the sermon and after the sermon. Without HIM, we merely talk.

    rufus [​IMG]
     
  6. Tony Solomon

    Tony Solomon
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    The background of our churches favours textual experimental preaching. the old joke (but I wish it was only a joke) is of a minister asked what he was going to preach on in the vestry replying, I don't know I haven't got my text yet. Others speak of ministers saying they don't get their texts until the pulpit stairs!!

    For myself, I aim to preach a series in the evening, Romans at the moment. Morning is left to the Lord, and I find my text in the week. It might relate to the evening, it might come out of a daily devotional, or my reading. Sometimes literally out of the blue. But I know it is of the Lord by the way it opens out, and I get the point. But it is always done in the context of an overall biblical theology view, not just a stand alone sermon that has no real relation to the text (you know the kind of allegorical stuff some people do).
    In the week I am doing lecture sermons in theology.
     
  7. tfisher

    tfisher
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    I greatly appreciate the insights all of you have offered. Thank you.
     
  8. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    We are a liturgical congregation, so each Sunday's worship is built around the lectionary; and I choose my text from one of the four lectionary texts for that Sunday.

    Joshua
     
  9. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    I believe that the safest method of GOD speaking and not BOB is to preach expository. Did 20 in Joshua, then shifted now and on #30 from Philippians.

    Everybody knows what text is next, what the theme is, and many read and study ahead in preparation for the preaching. I can't just preach on some issue, hobby horse, felt-need or latest decree from a denomination or lectionary!

    And my choices for books to exposit come from my study and devotion. As God speaks to my heart, it overflows for those who hear!
     
  10. Pete

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    May a layman through his 2¢ in? [​IMG]

    Every time God has given me the privilege of "borrowing" a pulpit so far the message has been topical. I think most of the time the text has come from reading the Word (good place to start) and digging through from there.

    At a previous Church I was writing young peoples (12-14yr old) Bible studies. The studies were on basics of Church doctrine with a topical one thrown in now and then.

    Yeah, I think that's about 2¢ worth ;)

    Pete
     
  11. Ben W

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    I bring the matter before God in Prayer, go to the bible and try to see what I feel God is leading me to. Sometimes it comes right away, sometimes it takes a few days.

    I would preach an expository type sermon yet I try not to keep it going for too long. Studies show that people retain in a lecture for about twenty minutes, with study props, a small amount more.
     
  12. swaimj

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    I recently preached eight weeks in a row on Sun AM at my church when the pastor got sick and was in the hospital. If I had known I would be preaching that long, I would have done a series. However, I was preaching on a week-by-week basis, not knowing when the pastor would be back. In that situation I tried to give the congregation a good mix from week to week. Here are the sermon titles and texts I used for those eight weeks:

    The Comfort of Christ's Return I Thess 4:13-18

    The Four Laws of Communication Eph. 4:15-32

    Mary's Song of Praise Luke 1:46-55

    Forgiven the Most Luke 7:36-50

    Saving the Best til Last John 2:1-11

    Choosing a Pastor I. Tim 3:1-7

    Obeying the Pastor Hebrews 13:7-17

    A Portrait of Faith Luke 8:40-56
     
  13. Daniel Dunivan

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    While I was pastoring I would throw it all in: congregational needs, series, through book, lectionary (very good around major holidays but I have used it at other times). Mixing it up is very important for a continued vigor both from me and the congregation. Since I am not pastoring now, I end up preaching at different churches (usually 3-4 different churches every month). In these instances, I do a couple of things: 1) preach lectionary, 2) find out what the pastor has been doing (if he's preaching a series I try to complement--not hijack), or 3) preach sermons that come to me (when you're not preaching every week, you get to missing it and sermons seem to come to you right and left). This week I'm preaching on "The Walk of Faith" based on the Lukan narrative of the enounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It's one of those "it just came to me".

    Grace and Peace, Danny [​IMG]

    Grace and Peace, Danny

    Grace and
     
  14. baptistteacher

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    I like to use series, but do not feel bound to them. That is, if a need or something else arises, I will interrupt the series for a week or two for the "need of the moment", although it is amazing how often the "need of the moment" is also dealt with in the series already in progress. I guess the Holy Spirit can lead in advance! [​IMG]

    For an Old Testament survey series, use Heb. 11 as a starting point. Pick as many from this "Hall of Faith" as needed to cover the time span (how many lessons you will have). This also shows the connection between the testaments.
     
  15. christine

    christine
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    I am not a preacher, just curious. I saw a website last night, ww.sermon.com. Please tell me this is not where and how preachers get their sermons. :confused:
     
  16. TheOliveBranch

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    Are you saying you use the same four readings?,never using any other? Or is the "lectionary" the topic of the day?

    Or is the "lectionary" what your denomination chooses for all of your type churches, and you have a choice of which topic you would use? This is how the Jehovah's Witnesses do it. Somebody at headquarters gives them the verses and topics, then they choose from the selection.
     
  17. NateT

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    I read in Jerry Vine's book on preaching the story of a young preacher who was bragging to the deacons that he wrote every sermon in the time it took to go from the parsonage to the church. The deacons got together and bought a parsonage on the other side of town!

    Sometimes I wonder what our pulpit supply pastors do. It is not really possible to go book by book on a pulpit supply format (i've done some pulpit supply and realize this is true). However, it is still possible to do exposition, only now its general and not book by book.
     
  18. Bible-boy

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    Expository preaching frees you from having to "pick" a text. You simply select a book of the Bible start at Chapter 1 and verse 1 and go. Each time that you preach you simply pick up where you left off and continue on until you have preached through the entire book. I have been told that members of First Baptist Dallas determine when they joined the church according to what book and passage that Dr. Criswell was preaching at the time! When you use expository preaching, book by book, you feed your congregation on the whole counsel of God.
     
  19. amen_corner

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    Bible Boy, the problem with that is that there are a lot of "blue moon" preachers out there...the staff guys that preach once in a blue moon. My take on the topic is this: all of the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, wherever I turn in the Scripture I will find the Word of God. He speaks through every passage. So, for me, the best approach is to take any passage and treat it expositionally, and preach the theme of that text. So it doesn't matter if I turn to Leviticus or 1 John. What matters is that I let the text determine the message, and not the preacher!

    In fact, I have done a little experiment over the years when called upon the preach the occassional message. There is a temptation for blue moon guys to pick some obscure passage to prove to everyone that they can preach. So I usually ask someone to pick a number between 1 and 2. This refers to OT or NT. If they pick 1, then I ask them to pick a number between 1-40 (hoping they don't say 40!). If they say 7, then I ask God to give me a message out of Judges. So far, God's message to me and the church has been available in any passage that has been determined that way!

    With that said, this in no way limits the Holy Spirit and His ability to lead me to the place He desires in the Scriptures.
     

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