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The Art of




The Art of Preaching

Copyright 2004, 2005 by Glenridge Church International
Portions copyright 1993 by Nigel Day-Lewis and Glenridge
Church International
Revision: 28 January, 2005
Mastering Date: 28 January, 2005
This document may be duplicated whole, or in part, in any
form (written, visual, electronic or audio) without express
written permission, providing it is not used for commercial
Printed by Glenridge Church International
+27 31 304 8841
Set in Book Antiqua (print) or Arial (screen).
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW
INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984
by International Bible Society. Used by permission of
Zondervan Publishing House. Scripture taken from the 1984
North American Edition of the NIV Bible, unless otherwise



This text has been adapted from a set of notes
shared with the friends of Nigel Day-Lewis during
1993 when he was an elder at Glenridge. The
form, style and layout have been changed for the
purpose of this book and it therefore does not
reflect Nigels usual style of writing.



1: Introduction ________________________262
Our Approach____________________________262
1. Some Scriptures ___________________________ 262
2. Four Dimensions We Must Understand _________ 263

Preaching: What and Why? ________________264

2: Preparation of the Preacher ___________265

The Ongoing Preparation of the Preacher ____265
1. Relationship with God _______________________ 265
2. An Increasing Resource-base ________________ 266

Specific Preparation Before Preaching _______266

3: Preparation of the Message ___________267

Different Types of Preaching _______________267
1. Expository or Exegetical _____________________ 267
2. Topical __________________________________ 267
3. Envisioning or Exhortational __________________ 267

Select the Message and Style_______________268

Meditate and Research ____________________270
1. Meditate on the Text ________________________ 270
2. Research the Content_______________________ 270

Focus and Edit ___________________________271

1. Focus ___________________________________ 271
2. Edit _____________________________________ 271

Organize ________________________________272
1. Different Structures of Sermons _______________ 273
2. Illustrations _______________________________ 273

Add the Introduction, Conclusion and Title ___274

1. The Introduction ___________________________ 274
2. The Conclusion ____________________________ 275
3. The Title _________________________________ 276

4: Delivery ____________________________278
Overall Presentation ______________________278



Language _______________________________279
Voice ___________________________________280
Eyes ___________________________________281
Face ___________________________________281
Legs and Feet____________________________281
Arms and Hands _________________________282
Clothing ________________________________282
Eating __________________________________282
Be Yourself______________________________282

5: Conclusion _________________________284
Three Tests______________________________284
Three Aims ______________________________284
Three Tensions __________________________284
Three Goals _____________________________285
Three Desires ____________________________285
General Tips _____________________________285
Common Errors __________________________286
Exercises _______________________________287



1: Introduction
Our Approach
Basic-level preaching and teaching is exercised by
all leaders. This is different to the office of
teacher or the gift of teaching. The focus of this
document is thus not on a specialist individual and
his qualification, training etc., but on the ministry of
teachingand practical aids towards this.
We will be talking about preaching, not
teaching in so far as this means one talking to
many rather than merely facilitating discussion
between many.
1. Some Scriptures
They read from the Book of the Law of God,
making it clear and giving the meaning so that the
people could understand what was being read.
(Nehemiah 8:8)
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite
my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a
skillful writer. (Psalm 45:1)
When the people heard this, they were cut to the
heart and said to Peter and the other apostles,
Brothers, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37)
You know that I have not hesitated to preach
anything that would be helpful to you . For I
have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole
will of God. (Acts 20:20, 27)



How, then, can they call on the one they have not
believed in? And how can they believe in the one
of whom they have not heard? And how can
they preach unless they are sent? As it is written,
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring
good news! Consequently, faith comes from
hearing the message, and the message is heard
through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14a, 15,
For since in the wisdom of God the world through
its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased
through the foolishness of what was preached to
save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21, see
also 1:17-25 and 2:1-5)
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading
of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. (1
Timothy 4:13)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a
spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2
Timothy 1:7)
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out
of season; correct, rebuke and encouragewith
great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy
2. Four Dimensions We Must Understand

Content: what you are sending;

form: how it is packaged;
delivery: how it is posted; and
anointing: the impact on the recipient.



Preaching: What and Why?

In the 20th century, and particularly in our day, the
Church and the world are continually discrediting
or downplaying preaching. Yet, as always, it is
Gods powerful tool for the salvation (that is,
conversion and wholeness) of man. It is under
attack precisely because it is so strategic and
powerful. No amount of stress on the truth and
merit of the home groups, body ministry,
evangelism and social action must be allowed to
undermine the validity and priority of preaching.
Preaching can convert, heal, deliver, set free,
renew minds and change lives as people simply
sit under it. Good preaching will render much
other ministry like counselling redundant, and it
leads to strong Christians. Sermonettes breed
Preaching magnifies God, reveals his will and his
ways, feeds the sheep, deals with lifes problems,
brings maturity toand causes change in
individual believers (and the church as a whole).
Preaching is a communication; its aim is to
produce an effect.



In other words, sermons change thinking and

perception, which in turn leads to a change of
living and behaving.
To me the work of preaching is the highest and
the greatest and the most glorious calling to which
anyone can ever be called. (Dr D Martyn LloydJones)



2: Preparation of the Preacher

In importance, order of proceeding and timeallocation, this preparing of the preacher should
come before the preparation of the message.

The Ongoing Preparation of the Preacher

1. Relationship with God
One needs to be in a good place with God:
abiding in Christ. This means: in character; life;
devotions (especially prayer and meditation on the
Word); being prepared for every good work; filled
with, walking in step with, and sensitive to the Holy
Spirit. Consider 2 Timothy 2:20-21, Galatians
5:25, Ephesians 5:18.
In short, a good
relationship with God, with lines of communication
constantly open, is vital.
The anointedness is dependent on (and often
directly proportional to) ones relationship with
God. Spiritual lockjaw is nearly always due to
sin, compromise, lukewarmness, hardness or
distance. The antidote is intimacy with, and
fullness of, the Holy Spirit.
A key to preaching is enthusiasm: to speak with
Gods passion about something. But remember
that the word enthusiasm is from the Greek
enthusios, which means in God. The key to
preaching is thus to be in God.



2. An Increasing Resource-base
The preacher needs to be reading and studying a
wide range of topics.
He needs continual
education, equipping and edifying of himselfan
increase of his resource-base:
The Bible, doctrine, ethics, Church history,
apologetics, cults and religions,
hermeneutics, homiletics and general
Christian literature.
Current affairs (a knowledge of contemporary
events; trends and issues from newspapers,
magazines and books), history, biography as
well as works of non-fiction and fiction.
A knowledge and study of his people and of
their lives (problems, aspirations etc.). A
preacher can only appeal to real life (and
illustrate from it) if in touch with it.

Specific Preparation Before Preaching

Before preaching, indeed, before even preparing
his sermon (but also during and after this) the
preacher needs to be in prayer: first, to purify and
prepare himself for the task that lies ahead; and
second, to wait on God for leading and revelation.



3: Preparation of the Message

Different Types of Preaching
1. Expository or Exegetical
Exegesis means to show the way by opening up.
Exegetical preaching thus goes through a text (a
passage or book) from A to Z, opening up
meaning and so pointing to a path of action.
2. Topical
Topical preaching is to examine one topic using
different texts. Consider, however, these two
dangers. First, one may dwell on a favourite topic
or current topic, and so not preach the full counsel
of God.
This breeds lopsided, immature
Christians. Second, there is more chance of using
texts in isolation (out of context) and/or of
distorting them to support ones own argument.
Thus topical preaching should always begin with
exegetical preaching.
Even when preaching
topically, base the message on one primary
passage (which you first exegete) and then go to
other texts to support or illumine it. In other
words, the topic must come out of the Word (we
should not decide on a topic and then find prooftexts).
3. Envisioning or Exhortational
All preaching should be Word-based. Preachers
are, first and foremost, preachers and teachers of
the Word (not of church structure, history,



doctrine, vision or Christian testimony). Exegetical

preaching causes changed thinking and beliefs by
bringing new knowledge and understanding,
renewing the mind, which leads inevitably to a
changed life.
Exhortational preaching leads
directly to a changed life. Topical preaching can
do either. Ultimately, however, behaviour change
is more profound and lasting when it proceeds
voluntarily out of a changed perception.
Preaching should, therefore, always aim for this.

Select the Message and Style

The selection of the message is obviously
important. In the light of the above, this equals
selection of a text. There are various ways in
which a message (text) can be selected:
Sometimes it is allocated or requested.
Sometimes it is determined by the occasion.
Sometimes the message chooses you. That
is, you are gripped by something (a text, topic
or exhortation), often without looking for it, in
the course of praying, reading (whether the
Bible or some other literature) or just living.
This divine leading may come through clear
revelation or inner conviction (a growing
sense or impression).
Most times, however, you choose the
messagea decision of sanctified
commonsense that is no less spiritual than
any of the other methods. Various factors
may influence this decision:
o the needs of the sheep (areas of doctrine
in which they are weak or confused);



o other audience factors (such as physical

age, spiritual maturity, culture, vocation
or education);
o public events, issues or trends, and the
consequent mood (what does God
say/feel about this?);
o personal illumination (truth that God has
recently been revealing to you and
exciting you about);
o simply part of the whole counsel of God
that needs to be preached some time.
Over a period of time our messages
should display a balance of selection: not
all exegetical or all topical or all
motivational; not all hard (rebuking) or
soft (comforting); not all topical on
favourite or current (in) topics or all
exegetical on favourite books or texts. In
short, over a period of time we should be
able to echo Paul in Acts 20:20 and 27:
I didnt skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and
encouragement that could have made a difference
to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I
taught you in your homes. (Acts 20:20, The
For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the
whole will of God. (Acts 20:27, TNIV)



Meditate and Research

1. Meditate on the Text
One should choose Sundays text by the previous
Monday at the latest. Then, prayerfully and
listeningly, read and reread (like sucking on a
sweet and drawing out all its flavours) repeatedly
through the week (both during prep times and
while just living), adding little by little to a
storehouse of treasures. (Babies can eat only
regurgitated or semi-processed food, not raw
foodbut only the parents regurgitation not
anothers!) So, eat Scripture so that it comes out
of you with life.
2. Research the Content
Research means reading. Learn to read quickly.
Keep a bibliography (record of sources and
pages) so that you dont duplicate research later
on and you can support statements made from the
pulpit. Here are three sources:
The Bible. Read the whole book several
times. Establish the background, theme and
structure. Examine different translations
(consider, for example, The Message, the
New Living Translation, the NIV or TNIV, the
Holman Christian Standard Bible or the New
American Standard Bible) or the original
Commentaries. Obtain others insights and
opinionsbut use these selectively (not too
much), critically (dont always agree), honestly
(give credit to your source) and personally



(assimilate the information into your own

structure of vocabulary).1
Various books or articles. Consider sacred
and secular matter on the actual topic and
on related matters.
Start with the Bible, only then proceed to
commentaries and books, but thereafter a dialogic
process between the two.

Focus and Edit

1. Focus
Prayerfully, listening to Spirit and considering all
that has been learnt, focus on the message:
isolate the dominant thought of the text. In one
line (even one phrase or even one word) establish
your theme (What am I trying to say?) and/or
your aim (What am I trying to achieve?).
Establish this as a lifelong and uncompromising
Aim to convey only one major message. People
will not remember the details of a sermon but
should remember the dominant thought. Resist
the temptation to pick-up on every other tangent of
the text or give the text a twist of your own.
2. Edit
Ruthlessly discard irrelevant material (no matter
how true, exciting or diligently researched!). Only

A list of good New Testament commentaries is available in New Testament Exegesis by

Gordon Fee.



what relates to the theme and serves the aim must

be left.

Arrange the remaining material in a logical order,
sequence, development and progression. Most
texts and topics have their own inherent
logic/structure that will present itself as an outline
of your sermon. Sometimes, however, a structure
has to be imposed on the material. Either way, it
is vital for the sermon to have a conscious
structure to which each point is clearly and tightly
tied. Every piece of information should be clearly
and tightly tied to a point. Structure is the
skeleton to which flesh can be added, the hooks
on which clothing can be hung. Without structure
you will not know where you are goingand
neither will the congregation. A sermon without
structure is difficult to listen to and no one can
assimilate or remember an amorphous, undefined
mass of facts. Arrange your material to serve the
dominant thought. Subordinate the material to a
theme or aim in such a way as to illumine and
enforce it, normally as two to four points (each
with similarly few sub-points, if any).
One can employ tools to enhance the unity,
continuity and memory of the sermon.
example, catchphrases, rhyme, assonance or
alliterationbut dont overdo this (and so stretch
or distort the points and material to fit the structure
(tool). Structure is our servant not our master. An
extremely simple but recommended way of
proceeding when first setting out is to treat each
point as follows:



state the point;

support it from Scripture;
illustrate it; and
apply it to life.

1. Different Structures of Sermons

Argumentative (apologetic): defending
Scriptural doctrine or ethical truth:
o explain the problem;
o present an argument;
o refute major opposition; and
o conclude.
Interrogative: a series of questions and
Interpretative: a line-by-line, precept-byprecept dissection and analysis of the text
(generally a short passage is better than long
Stringing pearls.
Surrounding a jewel.
Exploring facets.
Gaining ground.
Combinations and complexifications of these can
obviously be used, for example, a different
structure of individual points within an overall
structure of sermon.
2. Illustrations
Illustrations (including examples, analogies etc.)
are extremely helpful in teaching (consider Jesus
teaching). They are like windows letting in light on
the subject.
The word illustrate means to



illumine (to throw light upon an otherwise dark

object). But:
They let in light but they are not a source of
light. In other words, they are windows and
not foundations upon which one builds ones
message. The authority for what you are
saying must be based on Scripture alone.
They must be neither too prominent and
disproportional nor a distraction or diversion
from what you are saying. They must not
draw attention to themselves but rather to the
truth being illustrated.
Avoid too much personal illustration. This
can lead to subjectivism or egotism in yourself
(or too great a dependence on your life and
testimony in others).
Be sure of your facts, especially when
illustrating in a field about which you know
little (wrong information will distract some
people from hearing anything else you say.)
For example, double check scientific facts
and remember to briefly quote your source if

Add the Introduction, Conclusion and

1. The Introduction
This is essential. It is generally brief and serves a
twofold purpose. First, it is a hook: it arouses
interest, stimulates curiosity and whets the
appetite. Common techniques for achieving this
include a moving story or testimony; an amazing



fact; a startling statistic; a powerful statement; or a

rhetorical question. Second, it is a door: it should
genuinely introduce the theme and so lead
hearers into the message, involving the hearers by
applying the problem or text or topic to them.
2. The Conclusion
This too has a twofold purpose: First, it enforces
what the text has said; ties up with the opening;
restates the aim and themeoften much clearer
in retrospect. Second, it calls to belief and/or
action; it shows a practical application of message
(gives the hearers something to take home); it
provides an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to
prevail upon people to take action.
There are a number of common techniques for
achieving these:
recapitulation (summarize, but without
wearisome repetition);
application (apply the message and challenge
the hearers to action);
illustration; and
peroration (conclude with a flourish).
Do not introduce new material into the conclusion
(it distracts precisely at point where you are
desiring to bring focus) and be careful what you
say in your last statement (often the one
remembered most)make it valuable and to the
point. Many find it difficult to stop: this is often
because they have no defined theme or aim
and/or no clear structure.
If you have no



destination then you can never reach it; if you

dont know where you are going then you dont
know when you have arrived. Focus and structure
(during preparation and delivery) should ensure
that you know when endingand how to end.
Know how you are going to conclude, be specific
and definite.
Above all, dont drag on and on. When youve
said what you need to, finish and sit down! It has
been said, Conclusions are more difficult than
Some preachers seem to be
incapable of concluding anything, let alone their
sermons. They circle round and round, like a
plane on a foggy day without instruments, unable
to land. Also, Blessed is he who, having nothing
more to say, does not demonstrate it in words! In
short: stand up, speak up, shut up.
3. The Title
This is optional but it can be helpful. It may
contain the theme or aim. It can serve as a miniintroduction and mini-conclusion. It must be short,
strong and forceful (a bit like an advertising catch
phase) rather than long, wordy and academic (like
a thesis title). But one may have a longer, literal
subtitle after a shorter, figurative title, that gives a
clearer idea of the theme and aim.2
Preachers often establish the title first, then the
introduction and conclusion and, only thereafter,
from these, determine the body of message. But
this is to straightjacket and prejudge the meaning

Figurative titles are helpful at the time but when looking through sermon-title archives they
are not as helpful.



(and truth) of the text or topic. One should let the

text establish what should be preached (or let God
give you his rhema through the logos). Properly,
the fixing of the introduction, conclusion and title
canand shouldbe determined and added only
after the other steps of sermon preparation are
God/Scripture would have been
allowed to speak freely and unhindered firstthe
title, introduction and conclusion will then
accurately (with integrity) reflect this message
rather than the text or topic being artificially forced
into the chosen covers.



4: Delivery
We must pay attention to delivery because it is
also important. Good content is spoiled by bad
delivery, whereas good delivery can rescue bad
content! No amount of anointing can make the
need for good delivery redundant.

Overall Presentation
You are Gods messenger: look and act like it. Be
authoritative. Be confident in God and in his
calling and equipping of you. Yet never be
complacent or casual. Always have a weightiness
and nervousness because:
you are about to fulfil the awesome function of
representing God and his truth before man;
you should be aware of your own inadequacy
and disqualification.
It has been said, Expect to be nervous. When
your knees stop knocking, stop preaching. Why?
Because this shows you are relying on yourself.
But dont apologize for, belittle or disqualify either
yourself or your message.
Because of





have something between you and the people;

consciously breathe deeply and regulate your
pulse; and



know exactly what youre going to start with

(perhaps write it out in full).

Each person must develop his own style of notes
(layout, degree of detail etc.) and determine the
length of notes in proportion to his speaking time.
Generally, the fewer the notes the better (the ideal
is none); move from detailed notes to skeleton
notes. But you can use both: speak from skeleton
notes but have a full talk available. Ensure they
are legible: use large writing, bold ink and a clear
layout. Ensure they are practical: small cards, or
pages in small file. Large pages dont work as
well, especially if there is no pulpit!
Dont be tied to the notes because:
you may feel you cannot deviate from the
prepared content;
you have no contact with the congregation;
you may land up reading in a monotone.

Use simple, clear, vivid and concrete language.
Use responsible, sober language (Titus 2:7-8) that
does not unnecessarily offend or distract, or
undermine your ministry.
Where you err,



Never make sweeping, unthought-through or

unsupportable statements from the pulpit. They
never return to you void. Avoid:
the overuse of superlatives and hyperbole;
clichs and trite expressions;
meaningless repetition (often filling up pauses
in your nervousness);
additives (etc., et al, and so on and and
so forth);
weasel words (using words to avoid the real
issue); as well as
run-on sentences (employing a series of
conjunctions and so building a long, tortuous
and usually obscure sentence: short simple
sentences are best when explaining difficult
If you make references to original languages then
be sure of accuracy (and, where possible,
pronunciation).4 If you use humour it should be
purposeful, tasteful and natural (not forced or

Be audible: project your voice. Dont swallow your
words or drop pitch (or volume) at the ends of
lines. Be coherent: consciously speak slower than
you want to. Be interesting: vary pace, pitch,
volume and tone. Employ pauses: excruciatingly
long pauses to you are usually actually very short.

Run-on sentences can work in some circumstances, for example, exciting stories.
How to reference original Bible languages is explained in New Testament Exegesis by
Gordon Fee and The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne. A proper study of originallanguage words is not as simple as using Strongs Concordance.



Use expression and emphasis: by repetition;

deliberation (earnestness); adjusting pitch, pace,
volume and tone; actually drawing attention to
something; and pausing.
Avoid the preaching voice or the sing-song
(sleep-inducing!) voice.

Regular and all-including eye-contact is important
but use roving (butterfly) movement, not the
sustained (and embarrassed) stare or the
oscillating-fan movement!

Facial expressions are also important (they
enforce voice animation to enhance meaning).
Dont overdo itand smile a little!

Legs and Feet

Use a solid and still yet relaxed (not rigid) stance,
feet slightly apart with weight on both feet. Walk if
you want to or need to, but do it decisively and
purposefully (and not under charismatic
pressure). In other words, it must add to what
you are saying not distract from it. Walk to
demonstrate something, or if you are profoundly
Dont rock, sway, change weight, wrap one leg
round the other or shuffle!



Arms and Hands

Arms should be relaxed not rigid. Keep hands by
your sidepossibly with one hand on the pulpit
holding your notes or Bible.
No nervous or distracting movements: leaning,
gripping, clenching or twitching. No fiddling with
specs, pen, watch, notes, jewellery, pocket
contents or anatomy!
Dont overdo gestures. If you do gesticulate then
make it decisive and purposeful (they must be
connected to what you are saying, adding to and
not distracting from this).

Feel free to be yourself or to make a statement if
you need to, but dont unnecessarily distract or
offend (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)ask your leader
what he would prefer. Dont be religious: dont
dress differently just because youre preaching.

Dont eat heavily beforehand because it hinders

Be Yourself
Good delivery is important, and attention to much
of the above will ensure good delivery. But dont
focus so much on your delivery that you (and the
congregation) are distracted from your content.
Dont be straight-jacketed by these guidelines.



Every great speaker breaks the rules somewhere

and it is powerful and distinctive precisely for this
reason. Be yourself and establish your own
unique style.



5: Conclusion
Three Tests
Is it sensible? It should not be illogical.
Rather it be too simple than too complex.
Is it accessible? It should not be esoteric.
Rather too real than too academic.
Is it containable? It should not be too much.
Rather too little than too much.

Three Aims
Preach for a solution.
Preach for a decision.
Preach for intervention. Always give
opportunity for God to move and people to
respond. (This does not mean you must have
a ministry time.)

Three Tensions
Preparation (use of research) versus
spontaneity (sensitivity to the Spirit). One
needs the courage to step out if and when
moved by the Spiritnot simply because you
feel under pressure from charismatic culture.
Testimony (subjective experience) versus
truth (objective doctrine).
Vulnerability (where sheep can identify with
you) versus example (where sheep can follow



Three Goals
Challenge (rebuke, correct).
Comfort (encourage, edify).
Change (transform, mature).

Three Desires
Clout (authority, power).
Clarity (lucidity, crispness).
Conviction (animation, passion).

General Tips
Distinguish between Gods dealings with yourself
versus the church (sometimes the word to you and
the church are the same but they are not always
the same).
With new or difficult material, move from the
known to the unknown, the easy to the difficult.
something. Rather assume they dont when they
do than they do when they dont.
Preach to, not at, people.
Dont continually
denounce. Identify with the congregation: use
we or us not youexcept where meaningless
to do so. Ensure they understand us means all
of us and not us preachers.
Preach with your head and heart (knowledge and



Expect to make mistakes: excellence in preaching

(like anything else) is a process of growth. Seek
out honest evaluation to aid this process,
preferably including one mentor over a period of
time. Learn to respond to criticism well and to use
it constructively (even if given from the wrong
Fear not for your own reputation but Jesus. How
well (accurately, honourably etc.) are you
presenting him and his truth?

Common Errors
Delivering two (or more) sermons in one, or
having unrelated sections that are searching
futilely for link, or having sections not properly
connected (the link not made clear).
Using a misleading title: the body of the
sermon not being on what is indicated by the
Giving a string of personal impressions
(blessings!) from the speakers devotions.
Having too much material, forever having to
gloss over, with nothing done properly.
Eventually people get frustrated.
Using forced humour or unrelenting
Identifying a problem but never reaching a
Exhorting to something without defining what
it is and how to obtain it.
Having the problem of insubstantiality where
the sermon is nothing more than an
exegetical or motivational cameo.



Painting on too large a canvas: rambling over

large portions of Scripture without definition or
Showing sheer lack of clarity as to what you
are saying, or showing lack of progress and
structure in saying it.
Going on for just too long.
Rambling on after having made the point,
thereby distracting from it rather than adding
to it.

1. Write a topical sermon based on the text Luke
2. Write an exegetical sermon from Colossians