It’s easy to be overwhelmed as a preacher. So many things to keep in mind. The different aspects of delivery, built on the different elements of a sermon, not to mention the multiple facets of biblical study. You pour in whatever hours you can find in order to try to understand the passage, then to shape a sermon that will accurately and effectively communicate the meaning of that passage to your listeners with some degree of relevance to their lives. And maybe the many details feel overwhelming.
It’s easy to get caught up in the introduction, the conclusion, the illustrations, the support materials, the elements of style, effective delivery and so on. These all matter. These are all important, but they are all details. The best delivery you can conjure is hypocrisy without a solid message to preach. The best message flesh in the world doesn’t look good unless it is on a well-formed skeleton. And the best bones in the world only make sense as an outline when there is a master design involved. And that master notion needs to be worthy of all the work.
Delivery makes the most of a good sermon. The flesh of the sermon makes a skeleton of an outline into an attractive and compelling being. But the skeleton only makes sense if it is serving the main idea of the message – each bone supporting the unity of the message, each detail moving the message forward toward a goal.
I’m not undermining the importance of any sermonic detail. Details of the sermon and details of delivery, are important, but they are details. Unless there is a core concept, a big idea, a central proposition, whatever you want to call it. Unless there is that main idea derived from effective study of the passage to the best of your ability, all pursued in dependence on the Spirit of God. Unless there is that, there are only details. Random details. Remember the main thing. The main idea is your goal in Bible study. Then that main idea is boss of the message. The main idea is the main thing. Let’s remember that.