Last week I posted on the subject of sermon form. Now I’d like to expand on the factors that go into selecting a sermon form. Some people are committed to one sermon form. They think that true expository preaching is always done their way. It’s as if the sermon shape came down from the mount along with the two stone tablets and a blueprint for a uniquely special tent. But on this site we hold to the notion that expository preaching is not a form of preaching, but a philosophy of preaching. So, since there is great freedom, why do we choose the sermon form we choose? I see three main factors to take into account, today let’s consider the first:
Factor 1 – The form of the text. Every biblical text has a shape. It may be inductive or deductive. It may be a narrative, or a narrative introduced with a narrator’s statement of the idea or purpose. It may be chiastic. Text’s come in a certain type and a certain shape. For me, this is the starting point.
Not only does the text say something, but it says it in a certain way, and in doing so it does something. We would be wise to consider how our sermon can do what the text was written to do (not in every case, but often). And one way to make the sermon do what the text was written to do is to shape the sermon according to the shape of the text.
This is my default. My starting point is the shape of the text. I start with the shape of the text and then choose to change the shape of the sermon if there is good reason to do so. Why might there be good reason? In part 2, tomorrow, we’ll see!