There are many ways to preach—exegetically, “expositorally,” or topically. Today I want to introduce you men—and you, too, Ms. Simms—to another effective method. One of my former students, who has used this approach with great success, affectionately calls it the Professor Roberts Ramble Through the Bible. I like to call it the onion peel approach in reverse.

Here’s how it works. Pick a subject. Maybe it will be Elijah or part of a series of sermons on a minor prophet or on the judges of Israel. Then choose the text. Let’s assume you are preaching a series of sermons on Elijah and this particular Sunday you are going to deal with the section about the widow and her son.

Now draw a circle. That is where you place the text—the inner circle of your sermon. Read it. Then draw another circle. In that one, jot down all the Bible passages that might relate to the first circle. At this point, you must pay particular attention to the transitions. Once you get past the first few circles—and as you plan, continue to diagram—logical transitions will become unnecessary.

Use your voice to connect the passages. Or, tell your parishioners (who are busy taking notes per your instructions) to mark the original text and turn to passages in Genesis or Matthew or Ephesians. They will be so busy looking up Bible passages and writing down references that any logical slip-ups will be overlooked. Your congregation will probably think the better of you for it, anyway. What a command of Scripture it will show to keep them hopping from book to book, from cover to cover.

Try to sum up the sermon with a passage like John 3:16. But don’t put any schmaltz in your voice. By this time, a quiet, straightforward tone will serve to contrast with bombast that you ...

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