Having studied the content of a passage, focusing on the structure, outline and flow of thought (stage 2), and the intent of the author (stage 3), it is important to arrive at the goal of your study. The goal is the passage idea, a distillation of the author’s thought in one sentence. This sentence should convey the true and exact meaning of the author. This sentence is critical for the building of the sermon. To bypass this stage is to miss the central link between passage and sermon.
Many people study a passage and never feel that the task is done. Details lead to more details, bunny trails, etc. The more they study, the more they feel they need to study and the task (even if enjoyable) is never over. Understanding the importance of finding the idea helps to bring closure to the first half of the preparation process. Once the idea is determined, further study will either clarify the idea, or simply affirm the idea. Once our study starts to affirm what we have determined, it is time to move on to preparing a sermon (so many new preachers get so excited or overwhelmed by the study of the passage that they don’t give enough time to actually formulating the sermon, even though Sunday is looming).
Previously – Here is an important reminder of the importance of the idea. Working on the idea will improve your preaching, as long as you are saying the text’s something. Passage selection will influence this stage too, since a bigger passage has a broader idea.
Remember you can click on “Stage 4 – Passage Idea” for a full list of posts on this important stage of the process.