When school is back in session and we have entered into the fall, the preaching rhythm includes topical series that would apply to families or individuals. I’ve done series like, “How to Lose Your Family in 10 Easy Ways,” “Sticks and Stones: The Power of Words,” and “Scared to Death: Moving from Fear to Faith.” These fall series are designed to teach people what the Bible says systematically about topics relevant to our lives. Finally, I conclude December with a Christmas series.
For me, this rhythm is helpful for a few reasons. First, it keeps the preaching fresh. I don’t feel like I get in a rut. Second, it creates on-ramps for new people. By having a few breaks throughout the year in beginning new series, it gives our people an opportunity to invite people to something “new.” Third, it tries — to a degree — to be all things to all people. In other words, it seeks to be diverse, as some people like preaching that goes through a book of the Bible; some people are accustomed to 3-5 week series; and some people are interested in knowing what the Bible says about a certain topic. And this rhythm tries to include all of that in a given year. So, for those who don’t like a certain series, I tell them to wait for the next—for not every series will be a home run in everybody’s eyes.
T — Stands for TECHNIQUE(S).
The word technique is defined as “a way of carrying out a particular task — especially applied to the realm of artistic work or scientific procedures.” Applied to the art of preaching what kind of technique or techniques are appropriate? Now while my rhythm consists of topical series and book studies, I almost always use the technique of expository preaching.* Here are some definitions of expository preaching:
- EP “is the contemporizing of the central proposition of a biblical text that is derived from proper methods of interpretation [proper exegesis] and declared through effective means of communication to inform minds, instruct hearts, and influence behavior towards godliness” (Ramesh Richard, Preparing Expository Sermons, 19).
- EP is a more or less extended portion of Scripture being interpreted in relation to one theme or subject where the bulk of the material for the sermon is drawn directly from the passage and the outline consists of a series of progressive ideas centered around that one main idea (James Braga, How to Prepare Bible Messages, 53).
- EP “begins with a substantial passage of Scripture and allows the principal thoughts of that passage to become the outline for development and the basis for application.” (Edwin V. Hayden, “What is Expository Preaching?”, Preach the Word, 1–2).
- EP “is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality of the preacher, then through him to hearers” (Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching, 20).
To put in my own words, expository preaching is doing exegetical and Christocentric (gospel-centered) work to lift out the main idea of a text and to craft it in such a way as to teach the truth of God’s word in a faithful and culturally relevant way in order that the hearers might know how to apply the transforming truth of God to their lives.
While this is predominantly the technique I apply to crafting my messages, I do implement a variety of other techniques in my delivery. I’ll use props, word pictures, humor, personal stories, images, pictures, clips from movies or sitcom scenes, etc. I’ve gleaned a lot from books such as The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching and Teaching by Rick Blackwood and Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo.