Throughout my 27 years of preaching and five years of coaching other preachers, I keep returning to one key facet of effective preachingthe big idea. Getting clear on a big idea will sharpen and deepen your weekly preaching.

The concept of the big idea was popularized by Haddon Robinson, the giant of biblical preaching who passed away in July 2017. Haddon called it the major idea of the sermon, the proposition of the sermon, the basic principle youre trying to get across. For Robinson, the concept goes all the way back to Aristotle and Plato, but it sometimes gets lost when it comes to sermons. So when I talk about a big idea, Robinson argues, Im talking about an organizing factor. Take all the parts of a sermon and put them together into a whole, and that whole is the central idea-the big idea-in the sermon.

In his article in this guide, preaching professor Dr. Olu Peters compares the big idea to the thread that you weave into the fabric of the entire sermon. Peters writes, Different sermons, whatever kind of the sermon that may be, that sermon needs a main thread to keep the sermon together as a unit. Otherwise the sermon will fall apart into pieces. Thats my big idea. Each sermon should communicate one main thing.

What difference does it make for the sermon to have a clear big idea? First, the big idea will help you focus your sermon. It actually makes your sermon easier to write. Youll have more clarity about what to keep and what to save for another sermon. The big idea is like the trunk of the treeall the branches (subpoints, moves, illustrations, application, etc.) of your sermon should draw its purpose for existence from the trunk.

Second, the big idea helps your people focus. A wise old preacher once asked me, Son, how many points should a sermon have? Before I could respond, he replied, At least one. Sadly, some of our sermons try to make so many points that our people cant remember any of them. But if you go for one clear, simple, textually-driven point, your people will often get it.

Third, big ideas can change lives. Of course the Holy Spirit is the true life-changer, but big ideas help clarify where and how the change should take place. As Haddon once said, The truth is, people dont remember outlines. They may not even refer to them again What people do live for, what they do die for, is an idea, some great truth that has gripped them.

How can I write big ideas that grip your people? Can you show me some examples? How do I find it in my text? How and why should I write it? How do I use my big idea throughout the sermon? This preaching guide examines these questions and more. Get clear, get simple, and get focused with your big ideas.