How To Plan A Teaching Sermon
A teaching sermon calls for a careful plan, clearly visible. Let us assume that a pastor has begun in good time, that he has a worthy goal with a royal text, and more than enough materials, from both his passage and outside Holy Writ. In the spirit of prayer he sits down to figure out the best way to use the materials in meeting a need today.
Mentally, planning starts with a purpose, as it concerns the hearer, one of many. This aim a man does well to write out, word for word, and then keep in view. He may wish to win the unsaved hearer. Then may come the phrasing of a topic, with both the divine and the human, often in this order. A good topic shows how the minister interprets his text, and how he will proceed in the sermon. This kind of topic dominates all that follows. The topical use of materials from a Bible passage! Unity!
As often with F. W. Robertson, the facts may call for two main divisions; with C. E. Macartney, four; or R. E. Speer, in a long address, five. No more! What about three, which Maclaren is supposed to have preferred? In one of his ablest books, The Secret of Power, thirteen out of twenty sermons have a four-point plan. If the facts call for three, have three. Let the purpose and the materials guide in making the plan. Whatever the number, let the headings stand out like piers in a suspension bridge.
To aid both speaker and hearer, in each main heading use the gist of the topic. Phrase all the headings in a like form, often in sentences, easy for the layman to remember because of parallelism. Each main part may call for subheads, easy for the speaker to recall, but not for the hearer to notice. Somewhere determine which of the main divisions, if any, call for illustrations.1
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