As an instructor of preaching at the Moody Bible Institute in Spokane, every semester I have the privilege of teaching classes of 10 to 14 students how to rightfully handle God's Word. Essentially, for a large portion of the semester, I lecture on preaching theory and how to formulate and deliver a message. Then, near the end of the semester, each student will prepare and preach two messages. The first sermon is shorter and based on a passage of Scripture that I have chosen, as I am helping them get their feet wet in the preaching pool. The second message is a bit longer—to be chosen by the student—and it is worth more points. After each sermon, I give some helpful feedback on what they could have done differently.
One semester, however, I only had three students enroll in one of my classes. It was a class I'll never forget.
Jackie went first to deliver her first message. She did a fantastic job. She had a lot of natural ability as a communicator. She preached on Mary and Martha and handled the text beautifully. She was a gifted and talented speaker. After she spoke, I got up as I normally do and highlighted her strengths and a few weaknesses. I gave her some feedback and mentioned she could change a few things to help make the sermon go from a good sermon to a great sermon. She could do more of this and less of that, and I knew, with her ability and character, she could handle my critique so that she could improve.
Next, Mark got up to deliver his sermon. He did a great job, too—he actually preached from the Book of Mark, about Jesus walking on water and calming the sea. His big idea was, "Whatever is over your head is under Jesus' feet." A really memorable big idea! I stood up afterwards and ...
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Chris Rappazini serves as the Biblical Exposition Program Head at the Moody Bible Institute in Spokane, WA, is an associate teaching pastor at Southside Christian Church, and is on the Board of the Evangelical Homiletics Society.