There is not a one size fits all method or structure of preaching. There are many ways to study, structure, and faithfully deliver the Word of God to God’s people. That being said, I will mention three important elements to consider in your study and delivery of God’s Word. You could consider this “Preaching 101” material for a new preacher. But my hope is that this could also be a beneficial refresher of the basics to a seasoned preacher. Also, the material here implies that one is already committed to expository preaching.
- Explanation – To be a faithful expository preacher, one must preach a text. One of the first responsibilities of preaching the Word, is unfolding the text. This is the time to lay out the pertinent background, context, setting, etc. This should not be the bulk of the sermon. Explaining this side of the text is more like teaching. While preaching and teaching overlap, such as the explanation of the text, they are not one in the same. Therefore keep it brief by presenting only the essentials. Listening to a sermon should not feel like listening to a history lecture. Preaching is not a data dump. All that to say, the explanation should still be there.
- Proclamation – Proclamation is the meat of the sermon. To preach the Word of God is to herald the truth of God. Proclamation is the heart of what it means to preach. This is news delivery. This is not news delivery in the way that a news anchor on your local news station reads off of a teleprompter, but it is news delivery as a herald in a town square with a word from the king.
- Application – If I had to rank the importance of these three elements in preaching, this would be the second most important behind the proclamation itself. Many times the application portion of the sermon is the most memorable part of the sermon, for better or for worse. This is where the truth of God that was explained and proclaimed is now applied to the church as a whole and the individual in the pew. Being that this is often the most memorable portion of the sermon, it is vitally important that the gospel be ever present in our application. This is best done by applying whatever aspect of the gospel that was preached to a specific area of a person’s life. This is where we show how the good news of Jesus Christ applies to our lives. This is also a fine time for exhortation. The application does not have to be at the end of the sermon, although it certainly can be. I often find myself weaving application in with the proclamation – it just depends how the text flows.