Online Preaching Class – I am so impressed with the students at Christian Leaders Institute. In my president’s blog today I want to feature a final paper in the Online Preaching class. This paper was written by Duane Smith. Duane is in his late sixties, is passionate about ministry and he is close to receiving his ministry diploma.


Preaching Construction and Presentation Second Semester 2013


Duane Smith

There is an old saying about preaching, “The mind can take in only what the seat can endure.” We chuckle at that saying, yet unless some of the following “rules” are followed, it may be true.

Our congregations may be “bored” to death –that is, they may not grasp the true message of the Gospel – and in effect are headed for hell. So what are we to Preach? “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season – be prepared…” 2 Timothy 4: 1-2 As Preachers of the word, we are to be prepared to preach, on that most of us would agree. The problem that is not necessarily what, but how? I believe we can be effective and have impact in our communities, by prayer, preparation, effective communication, and by developing a realistic and challenging application. I learn the importance of the following elements in this online preaching class.

Online Preaching Class –  First – Prayer.

Prayer is essential in preparation; it is the Holy Spirit that makes our sermons effective, not the words of our mouth, the God’s message through our minds and from our lips to the ears of the audience. It is at the urging of God that we choose the right verse for the right time and for the right audience. None of that will happen without prayer.

Online Preaching Class – Second – Preparation

Preparation is more than just sitting down in your study or office reading some printed material, looking up what commentators say, and then writing out your version. Preparation is work! Of course it means study, study and more study, not just of commentaries but mostly of the Word, comparing scripture with scripture. Sometimes struggling with a passage, as you work through it, learning where it was written, who is the audience, what is the context, etc, etc.

This is where we also pray for illumination and clarity of mind. Decide (after prayer and contemplation) what kind of sermon you will work on, it might focus around someone’s personal testimony, or someone’s biography. Perhaps it will be a history perspective or a message on a particular topic. One certainly cannot exclude both the topical and/or expository studies and presentation of God’s message to us -where the pastor expounds on the meaning of a verse or chapter, and then focuses on that as the core of the sermon before applying that word to everyday life. For many a template makes this part of the pastor’s preparation easier – it adds focus, structure, organization.

While these may sound like the same words many of us have learned in a public speaking class, a sermon is much more than that. We are communicating God’s truth, not just telling a co-worker that sales are up and down, that a certain kind of process works best in manufacturing, or convincing ourselves that it’s up to us to become successful. On the contrary, God is using us to present the truths of the Gospel; that He made the world, and that He sent His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary, who lived, died, and was resurrected while here on earth. It is communicating that because of Jesus we can have eternal life. This is our message, far more important than temporal matters. One must be willing to edit, edit, edit. Not just to shorten the message but to focus the message on the core or main point of whatever scripture you are using.

It’s interesting in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, chapter 4 verse 2b, Paul says that we are to “correct, rebuke, and encourage, with great patience and careful instruction” no where does he say “with a lot of words”, bringing us back to my opening statement, “the mind can take in only what the seat can endure.” Especially in this 21st century, our brains for better or worse, have been conditioned to sound bites, we have the audience’s attention at best for seven minutes, and those minutes had better be focused, clear, concise, and well crafted.

Online Preaching Class – Third  Presentation

Without proper preparation, your presentation will “flop”. It is in this third step that our preparation pays off. If properly prepared, we can peach with humble confidence, passionate enthusiasm, with clarity and with a refined manner. If we don’t know our stuff then we run the risk of the congregation not grasping the point of the message, our words will be just words that bounce around the auditorium’s ceiling and walls. While sermon presentation is a calling, and we are equipped by the Holy Spirit to proclaim God’s message to a needy world, it is also a craft that must be mastered.

We must preach clearly, focused, using all the tools of communication that God has given us. We should not hide behind a pulpit, reading a sermon in monotone as Jonathan Edwards, did. We are empowered by the God Himself, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we must have passion, and know our audience – we must walk in their shoes as we preach to them. We must stay focused on our main point, using a language and method that is customized and works with our audience.

Technology can be extremely helpful and can serve as a catalyst in keeping the audiences attention, especially video clips, photos, and power point but we must be discerning on the appropriate tool and when to use it. We must also be careful to not get too enamored with the techie stuff that we lose our focus on what God is trying to say through us to our congregations. Our body language, use of our eyes, our hands, our walking around the stage, are important to be effective, but must always compliment and enhance our presentation not distract from it. This is not a show, or an oratory contest, but serious business. Likewise our grooming must always be in good taste, again not to take away from the message. This is not a fashion show and most of us won’t make it to national evangelical TV stations. If necessary, we should use stories, poems, etc. There is a common saying especially among those of us from a reformed theological background that the good sermon must have three points, a Psalm and a hymn, along with a poem. Note it doesn’t say we need to take an offering (that’s a joke). Most of Jesus’ teachings were in the form of parables (earthly stories with a heavenly meaning). It’s ok to abruptly end, to add a little drama, and hold the listener’s attention and they may retain much more of the message. Just as the “preacher” needs to hook to get the audiences attention at the beginning so an effective close is necessary.

Online Preaching Class – Fourth -The Application

Perhaps an often over looked part of the sermon is the application. How should they apply what you have taught to their lives? Besides worship, the preaching of the word needs to have an application to be effective. God’s word contains all the answers to all of life’s questions, though it is not a science text book or a math text, or reading primer, it sets the parameters on how life can and should be lived. It is our guide in living and our comfort in dying. Our preaching done in love and compassion can and should change people’s lives. Conclusion – It is with “fear and trembling” that I approach the calling of preaching. For me this course has been one of the most beneficial in a practical way. This is where the “rubber hits the road”. Your prayers are hoped for and anticipated.

At this online preaching classes students watch and evaluate over 10 different preachers. They also read articles, materials and blogs that help improve their craft. This assignment was complete by Duane Smith a student at CLI. Check out one of the links you will study in this online preaching class.  This online preaching class link is from John Piper


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