Previous related post: Part 1 of 3: “My story”
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica;
they received the word with all eagerness,
examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
So, what is homiletics?
Homiletics is taking you, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit and wrestling through and hashing out what God is saying in a systematic way. Commentaries, while they have their place, are not invited to the party at this time. (As an aside, if you read a Bible Outline, it is basically someone sharing their homiletics. If you listen to an expository sermon, it is likely based on the framework of the pastor’s homiletics.)
There are variations on how to do homiletics. I have no opinion on which is best other than whatever draws you closer to Christ. What I will share below is my story, how I started, that worked for me. I will then briefly mention some changes I have made as I saw what may be useful for me and read about other ideas for homiletics.
Think of homiletics like an hourglass. The whole passage goes into the wide top of the hourglass. It then gets shrunk down until it can come through the hole in the middle, then it expands again.
Part One: Preparation
- Pray for God to open your eyes to see Him and His truths and applications in His Word.
- Read the passage several times to just let it sink in and the Holy Spirit to speak through His Word.
- Have only your Bible, paper and pencil (I do mine on the computer, but have to be careful to shut out other distractions.). NO commentaries, etc.
Part Two: Content
- Summarize the entire passage in 10 to 20 lines. Give the reference for each line. You are basically taking notes on the passage.
- This should only have facts, not your interpretation.
- It does not have to be full sentences.
- If you are doing a chapter of 20-40 verses, this isn’t too hard. If you are doing multiple chapters, you are really needing to summarize.
Part Three: Divisions
- Divide the whole passage into two to four divisions. Give the reference for each division.
- Have a complete sentence summarizing each division.
Part Four: Subject Sentence
- Write a sentence that uniquely describes the passage. If someone knows the Bible and reads your subject sentence, they should know what passage you are studying.
- The sentence should be 10 words or less. (Forcing you to really get down to the core.)
- Have facts, not interpretation.
Part Five: Aim
- Write one main truth that the Lord is teaching you and that you want to pass along to others.
- ONE main truth, not several smaller truths.
- Start with “Cause audience to learn….” or even “Cause myself to learn…”
- This is starting to deal with application, not just facts.
Part Six: Application
- These should be in the form of a question. The questions should cause thinking and change, convict and/or encourage and change the heart over behavior.
- Write at least one application question for each division.
A Word of Caution and Insight
Homiletics, as with anything, can also become “computerized”, something you do without really processing, or thinking about the words and missing the meaning. The key has always been and will always be, prayerfully coming before the Lord and experiencing the Holy Spirit bring the Word to life. Homiletics is simply a tool in helping to dig deeper into the Word. It may also appeal more to some personalities than others.
While I love homiletics, my homiletics are not very “good”. As I hear others share from their homiletics, I delight in hearing the ways they make the divisions flow, or the Subject Sentence catch the meaning almost poetically, etc. While I love hearing theirs (and I really do), I love mine more! (sound vain?) The fact is, mine is mine, it is what God spoke to me. The result may not be as beautiful, but it is through the process of thinking through the Word in communion with the Spirit, that real impact is made. It’s the process, not the result that really matters. I hope I am growing in my results as well, but it is growth in the process of becoming absorbed in God’s Word through His Spirit that really matters.
Don’t let comparison keep you from experiencing the depths of God through His Word!!!
To be continued… Part 3 of 3: “Examples, Tweaks & Additions”