Selecting Sermon Form: The Preacher’s Strategy – Part 1

Over the next days I will re-assert a basic commitment of expository preaching on this site – there is great flexibility on form.  You can preach a text deductively or inductively, or a combination, or using some variation on these basic shapes.  You can choose three points, or two, or one, or four.  You can go verse-by-verse, chunk-by-chunk, logical thought by thought.  You can preach in first-person, second-voice, etc.  You can follow the Stanley 5-Step (me-we-God-you-we), the “Lowry Loop,” or the “Clowney Construct,” or Chappell’s variation, or Keller’s.  Whatever.  You have freedom to choose your form.  So why do we choose the form we choose?  It’s simple really.  It’s about strategy.  As Robinson puts it, the sermon idea is the arrow, your sermon purpose is the target, and your sermon form is how you think you can best deliver that arrow to its intended target.

Since there are numerous possible variations on sermon form, which should you choose?  It’s simple really.  Whatever will work best.  If you have a goal, then you will choose your strategy in order to achieve your purpose.  I see at least three implications here:

1. Resolute commitment to a good strategy may be foolhardy. Seems obvious, but circumstances change.  It’s true in war.  It’s true in sport.  It’s true in preaching.  If you preach in first person (in character) and you get great feedback, don’t automatically commit to always preaching in first person.  It will become old and lose some of its effectiveness.  Each sermon is an opportunity to choose your strategy according to the factors uniquely present on that occasion.