When I first started preaching I primarily was what you might call a supply preacher. My Pastor knew that I was sensing the call to preach so he started to give me opportunities to preach. It was not long before he got me on the associational supply preacher list and I started getting opportunities to preach in other churches. This was a good gig for a preacher just starting out and it had its advantages. Mainly, since I never preached in the same place more than 3 or 4 times in a row I only needed to have a stash of about 5 or 6 messages. But the disadvantage rose its ugly head when I was called to be the interim Pastor of a church. Suddenly, I was thrust into the role of having to preach 3 times per week and my cache of sermons quickly ran dry. I was faced with the age-old problem of every preacher, “Where do I find ideas for my sermon?”
At first this wasn’t too big of a problem because I simply started to preach messages about things I thought the church needed to know about. Back then I foolish enough to have an opinion about every thing and naïve enough to believe that I had the right Biblical answer to all of them. In reality, I quickly became a broken record repeating a list of spiritual clichés about a limited number of pet subjects. The truth is that the people in that dear church enjoyed this kind of preaching because it didn’t really challenged them and served to reinforced what they already believed and held true. A sadder truth is that no one was growing in his or her walk with the Lord as a result of my preaching. All I could teach them was what I already knew and that took less than a month to convey.
For those preachers who are more gifted and intelligent this process will take a bit longer but the result is inevitable. If you make topical preaching the exclusive way that you preach, you will one day come to the end of your knowledge and your preaching and the people you Pastor will become stunted. Thankfully, I had a wise and godly mentor who took me aside and showed me a better way. He turned me on to a way of coming up with sermon ideas that is literally inexhaustible. I have used this simple method for over 18 years now and I have never struggled to come up with an idea to preach on a Sunday morning, Sunday night or Wednesday night.
Do I have your attention? Would you like to know the secret that he taught me? Well, here it is, my mentor Dr. Richard Harris simply taught me to preach the Biblical text. You can start with a single passage, or a section of Scripture such as the Beatitudes, or even an entire book, but if you want to find a never-ending source of sermon ideas just open your Bible. Dr. Harris taught me to start with the Biblical text and let it give me the topic and the points.
The results have been simply amazing. Not only have I escaped the weekly tyranny of worrying about what to preach on Sunday but I have also been forced to grow in my understanding of the Scripture. Most importantly, it has helped the churches that I have pastored to grow in their understanding of the Scripture and the gospel. Below are some helpful articles that I have written to help you get started with this kind of preaching.
- How to preach through a Book of the Bible
- How to plan your preaching f or a year.
- Why I Preach Expository Sermons (pdmccosh.wordpress.com)
- Top Five Books on Preaching (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)