The Big Idea of Big Idea Preaching

In an email interaction with a good friend, John Bell, I was intrigued to read of his statement of the Big Idea of the Big Idea approach to preaching.  See what you think:

“Effective preaching makes clear and compelling the one thing that the text makes most central.”

This impresses me on a couple of levels.  First, why didn’t I even think of working out the big idea for the whole approach?  Second, having done this, it prompts further thought on the nature of biblical preaching.  It is this kind of thought that drives us deeper into the profundity of the preaching ministry.

So taking John’s statement as a starting point, where might our thoughts go?  Regarding the role of the text in preaching: this definition presupposes, rightly in my opinion, that a unit of thought has a unity of central idea.  This statement underlines the importance of making much of what the text makes central.  Regarding the role of the preacher, it is clear that the task involves both understanding the text, and being able to communicate that understanding in a clear and compelling way.  Speaking of compelling – is that not a subtle way to communicate application, as the force of the text is released to do its work on those that hear?

I know that some take exception to the word “effective,” as if it guarantees a godless pursuit of human professionalism.  I suspect the logical leaps in that critique are worthy of being traced out.  Nevertheless, I wonder how best to make clear in this definition that biblical preaching is not merely a matter of textual study, distillation and communication, but is also always a ministry God does?  Perhaps it could be modified in this way, “God empowers effective preaching that makes clear and compelling the one thing that His inspired text makes most central.” Others would probably choose to pursue a Christocentric critique, rather than a Theocentric one.

Knowing John as I do, I know he wouldn’t desire to leave God out of the definition.  How would you tweak the definition?  The end result is not as important as the process, but that is priceless when the subject is something of this significance!

“Effective preaching makes clear and compelling the one thing that the text makes most central.”

One thought on “The Big Idea of Big Idea Preaching

  1. Effective preaching, that which accomplishes God’s intended purpose, is preaching in which the text and main point of that text is not simply the flavoring to a sermon; but is rather the appetizer, meat and dessert.

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