Recently, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, associated with Baylor University, published the results of their survey seeking to name the twelve most effective preachers in the English speaking world. You can follow this link for the entire list: https://www.baylor.edu/truett/index.php?id=951217
Since reading the list, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be an effective preacher. I’m convinced that any faithful preacher can become effective by understanding three elements of preaching: exegesis, hermeneutics, and homiletics. Or, to use less academic terms, preachers craft effective sermons through investigation, interpretation, and communication.
Effective preaching begins with investigating a text. First, the preacher analyzes the preaching unit from large to small by considering context, structure, and individual words and phrases. These exegetical/investigative steps bring out the details necessary to determine a passage’s meaning.
Second, the preacher interprets the text from small to large by considering the connection between the individual words and phrases, structure, and context. This hermeneutical/interpretive step seeks the text’s intended meaning for its original audience by considering the writer’s setting and purpose. A preacher must know what a text meant to explain what it means.
Third, the preacher determines how to communicate a text’s meaning. In this homiletical/communicative phase, the preacher builds the sermon to present the text’s meaning so that the congregation understands what the biblical author meant and how that meaning applies to their lives. At this phase, the pastor determines the sermon’s structure, how to introduce the message, and how to conclude and call for a response.
I believe that any pastor can consistently preach effective sermons. The three elements of investigation, interpretation, and communication aren’t complicated. They are just hard work. Every week, the dedicated local pastor can walk into the pulpit knowing that the message will reflect God’s Word and be applicable and understandable. For this to happen, each pastor must be willing to put in the time it takes to effectively work through these three elements.
Preacher, let yourself off the hook. Very few pastors become famous. Few are appreciated beyond the walls of their local church. I believe this reality is a good thing. Let the famous be famous. Someone has to do it, so let them take care of it. For the rest of us, let’s faithfully dive into the text, find its meaning, and then report our findings to the congregation.
We might not all be the most effective preachers in the English speaking world, but we can all be the most effective preachers for our congregations.