I typically teach with reference to the arrow and the target (i.e. the main idea and the message purpose respectively). In order to deliver the arrow to hit the target, strategy is necessary. This might mean preaching in the clear and logical manner of a deductive message, or it might choosing the slightly trickier, but when effective, very effective, inductive message. A preacher needs to think through how to preach the text as effectively as possible. This is strategy.
It encourages me to see this type of language used by Spurgeon. Let’s taste a bit of that:
Again, brethren, if you wish to see souls saved, we must be wise as to the times when we address the unconverted. Very little common sense is spent over this matter. Under certain e there is a set time for speaking to sinners, and this comes as regularly as the hour of noon. . . . Why should the warning word be alway at the hinder end of the discourse when hearers are most likely to be weary? . . . When their interest is excited, and they are least upon the defensive, then let fly a shaft at the careless, and it will frequently be more effectual than a whole flight of arrows shot against them at a time when they are thoroughly encased in armor of proof. Surprise is a great element in gaining attention and fixing a remark upon the memory, and times for addressing the careless should be chosen with an eye to that fact.
Spurgeon here raises an interesting thought. Not only should strategy influence our choice of sermon shape and content, it should also influence our decision about timing and target within the group who are listening. I know I tend to address the unsaved near the end. Why? I’ve been impressed with Andy Stanley’s direct approach in introductions on several occasions.
When will you target the unsaved this Sunday? What about the saved by lethargic? The excited and passionate? The naturally skeptical? The comfortable? We often think through messages from all angles of the text, but why not think through all angles of those listening. There is diversity there, a good military campaign would think through that variety. So would a sporting gameplan. Why not in the most important battle of all?