This structure organizes the sermon on the basis of two experiences most parishioners have as they open up the Scriptures: a desire to understand what the text is speaking of in its own historical context and a desire to hear how God speaks through this text to shape the lives of his people today. With an eye toward these two experiences, the preacher shapes the sermon with a text-application structure.
This preacher divides the progression of the sermon into two portions. After an introduction that raises interest in the text or in a life situation for which the hearers desire a word from God, the first part of the sermon offers textual exposition for the hearers; the second part of the sermon applies the text to the hearers.
In the first section of the sermon, the preacher spends time with the text. As the preacher develops the text, he is careful to focus upon those details that are important for later application of this text to the lives of his hearers. Often, the preacher will be identifying teachings of the faith within his exposition of the text that will later be used in application to the lives of the hearers.
In the second section of the sermon, the preacher examines God’s present work in the lives of the contemporary hearers. In doing this, he could be working with the teaching of the text, the function of the text, or the intention of the writer. Any of these approaches can yield fruitful results in terms of how this text functions among the hearers today. Sometimes, preachers may find it helpful to move sequentially through the four types of discourse in the tapestry of preaching as they move from text to application: textual exposition, theological confession that names a teaching in the text, evangelical proclamation that centers that teaching in Christ for us and hearer interpretation that names our lives in relation to that teaching.
The biggest challenges in this sermon structure are finding an appropriate balance between textual exposition and hearer application (for example, avoiding a sermon that is long on textual study and short on application) and maintaining hearer attention during a prolonged section of textual study or application.
Chapel Sermon by Jeffrey Gibbs from Luke 8:26-39 on Wednesday, June 19, 2019.
© 2011 David Schmitt. All rights reserved.