A Purposeful Change

I just returned from the campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. During the weekend I was able to spend some good time with Mike (the less frequent co-author of this site). He is enjoying a three-month well deserved sabbatical from local church ministry. In one of our many discussions, we decided to make a change to the stages presented on this site (and in preaching instruction I give). We have added a stage and adjusted the order slightly.

The Change – The central stages were previously three; passage idea, passage/message purpose, message idea. Now the central stages in the model are four; passage purpose, passage idea, message purpose, message idea. You’ll see them on the right menu bar.

The Reason – The new order makes sense. Purpose precedes and informs idea. This was true before for the message idea, but not the passage idea. Now the stages are more consistent. The details of the passage are studied for content and structure (stage 2), which helps to reveal purpose (stage 3), that all informs the goal of passage study – the passage idea (stage 4). Then the message development phase begins with sermonic purpose (stage 5), which influences the statement of idea (stage 6), that leads in to the shape of the message (stage 7). Since this is only a website and not published material, we can easily make this change.

As preachers we must be aware not only of the “what” in a text (content), but also the “why” (intent) and the “how” (genre/form). I believe that recognizing the influence of purpose as well as content in the forming of an idea is a step in the right direction.

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