6. Grasp the flow of the whole – As a preacher you need to be able to explain the flow of the epistle. Some of us are better at the details, others at the big picture, but we all need to work on both. Preaching that just methodically explains the details without a good sense of the whole will be tedious, atomistic and disjointed. Preach so the whole epistle can hit home.
7. Study the sections in light of their detail and the big picture – So as you look at a particular section, you will need to wrestle with the tiniest detail. That may or may not need to be explained when you preach. But don’t forget to keep thinking about the big picture, the broad flow of thought – that will need to be explained!
8. Study details and structure – Close reading of a passage is not just about word studies, it is also about sentences, and how sentences connect, and how transitions are made, and how paragraphs link. Be sure to recognize repeated terms and themes, as well as patterns in flow of thought. We have to study and hold understanding of the text at multiple levels of elevation at the same time. A fun challenge!
9. Let the shape of the text shape your message – Or to put it another way, stop trying to find a list of three equal points in every text. Sometimes a text will offer a negative example, then a positive example and then five instructions. This is not three equal points. Sometimes a text is essentially in two parts. Preach a two-part message, you’ll be fine, don’t worry (You don’t have to preach the sermon in the shape of the text, and there may be reasons not to, but as a default, its not a bad way to go.)
10.Compare and contrast situations – The original audience and their situation is not going to be the same as your listeners. Compare and contrast the two. What need do your listeners have for this passage? Adjust how you present it accordingly. But don’t adjust its original situation or meaning accordingly, that will weaken the message.
Another five next time…