The Battle Plan of a Sermon
The Battle Plan of a Sermon
“Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31).
One picture the Bible paints of a preacher’s work is that of a soldier. “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). As soldiers of the Lord, we wage war with the weapons of God, not man, such as the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Victory is achieved when the will of a sinner is broken before God and that contrite sinner submits to the authority of Christ.
As I have reflected on the work of preaching, I think there is a lot to be learned from the field of battle, just as the Lord and His apostles drew lessons from the military of their day. As our nation wages war in Afghanistan, this is an especially appropriate time to look for spiritual applications from warfare. And I am convinced there is a lot we preachers can learn from a practical standpoint about preaching.
Whenever our nation considers military action, there are several pertinent questions our leaders ask:
· Is this a matter of national security interests?
· What are our objectives?
· Do we have the resources to achieve victory?
· What is our entrance strategy? (How do we get in?)
· What is our exit strategy? (How do we get out?)
I think these are great questions for every preacher to ask before every lesson. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if a sermon fails to achieve its goals, it is always because one of these five key questions was not asked and answered.
Is this a matter of national security interests?
Is this sermon really pertinent to the needs of the people, or is it just an academic exercise, or worse, another ax-grinding session?
What are our objectives?
Do I have a clear sense of what I want to accomplish in this lesson, or am I just filling another hour on Sunday?
Do we have the resources to achieve victory?
How much time in study and research is needed to accomplish my objectives, and am I willing to pay that price?
What is our entrance strategy? (How do we get in?)
What is the best possible way to begin this lesson in order to command the attention of my audience to reach my objectives?
What is our exit strategy? (How do we get out?)
How will I conclude this lesson in a manner to achieve maximum impact in reaching my objectives?
I cannot begin to tell you how much better my preaching is now that I go through this checklist. And when I feel as though my preaching was inferior, it is because I ignored one or more of these objectives. Which one of these questions do you often ignore? For me, it’s the last.
Preaching is such a privilege. Two hours each week we preachers get a chance to talk to everyone in the congregation, an opportunity no one else generally has. Those two hours are precious, and they deserve our very best. Count the cost before you go into spiritual battle and make sure you are ready.