Yesterday I pointed out that prayer is by no means a short cut when it comes to preparing to preach. It is critical, but it should not be viewed as a short cut. Today I’d like to share another unhelpful short-cut.
2. Passage Details. It is always tempting to bounce off a detail in the passage and preach a message that may be biblical, but is not the message of this passage. For instance, you might see a theological term that is rich in meaning and you can easily put together a series of thoughts on that aspect of theology. Or perhaps you spot a name of a character that you’d like to speak about. Or maybe there is some other detail in the text that is familiar and lends itself to a message that just falls together easily. Wait. This may be a short-cut, but it is not a good path to take. Instead be sure to study all the details in the passage so that you can wrestle with what this passage is actually saying, not just what words it includes. Using details in the text, but failing to actually preach the text is what I might call pseudo-expository preaching. It sounds biblical, it looks expository, but it has a weakened authority since the message of the text is not the message of the sermon. It takes longer to study a passage through in detail, but it is so worth the effort!