Set Free from the Cookie Cutter

How the text can form the sermon

Set Free from the Cookie CutterSee theme

When we first learn to preach, we need to learn a form to pour our sermons into, such as a three-point, subject-completed outline. But as we mature in our preaching, we need more flexibility in our sermon forms to stay out of the rut. We need to learn to let the text form the sermon, instead of vice versa.

Genre and the form of a sermon

The first step in that direction, of course, is to fully understand the text. You can talk about exegesis, and it can sound cold. Sometimes when people think of exegesis, they think of analyzing words and phrases. But basically what you're trying to do when you exegete a text is to really understand it—understand its flow of thought, how the author is developing that thought.

So when I come to didactic literature, such as Romans or Galatians, I analyze how the thought develops because there tends to be a logical flow. I get to a parable and I can't do that. The danger is to go to an epistle and see that Paul has three moves in a particular paragraph ...

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Displaying 2–5 of 5 comments

Paulson Pulikottil

January 05, 2012  1:14am

I am trained on the three-point structure, but have always questioned it. Now, I have a rational and practical explanation why this three-point neatly outlined stuff doesn't work. Thanks for the clarity!

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Kelly Taylor

August 30, 2011  6:44am

Great article, although I have been helped and blessed by Charles Stanley and John MacArthur Jr., they are both guilty of primarily using one sermon form; Stanley has a list of points on any and every passage and MacArthur preaches everything as if it were a New Testament epistle. It never hurts to learn how to preach from Jesus; example.

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Marcos Pazymino

November 16, 2010  8:32am

As a new pastor, I gained new insights by reading Dr. Robinson's article. I intend to follow his advice.

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Jimmy Orr

November 15, 2010  2:32pm

Although it would have made this article prohibitively long, it would have been more helpful if Dr. Robinson had given sermonic examples (or at least excerpts) of the suggestions he makes in the article.

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