Chapter 84

Set Free from the Cookie Cutter

How the text can form the sermon

When we first learn to preach, we need to learn a form to pour our sermons into, such as a three-point, subject-complement 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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