Stage 5 – Message Purpose

The second half of the preparation process is concerned with taking the main idea of the text and forming a sermon that will be relevant and effective for your specific congregation. In the first four stages, the focus was purely on the text, now you have to give significant attention to your listeners. Consequently it is good to do an audience analysis at this stage.

Before you work on the statement of the idea for the message, you have to be clear on your purpose in preaching the message. The purpose of the sermon will influence the phrasing of the idea, the shape of the message and the details (the next three stages). The concern of the preacher, having understood the text, is to communicate effectively – that is, explain and apply the passage. It is not enough to merely explain the passage (a Bible lecture), or to be relevant (a contemporary monologue), you need to do both.  Clearly defining the message purpose will drive you to more effective explanation and relevance.

Previously – Purpose must drive the message design. The need for relevance requires urgent changes in our preaching. There have several posts that highlight the reality that our listeners live in, the reality to which we must be relevant. For instance, we preach to real ordinary people. Effective communication requires that we drop down the ladder of abstraction. We don’t just preach for practical ends, but rather we preach to the heart, but still add practical steps. In our preaching we should demonstrate that we value application. One final point of clarification, relevance and application are related, but they are not twins.

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