Friday, June 17, 2011

The Form of a Sermon

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In order for a sermon to be all that it can be, not only should a good preach- text be chosen, but a good form must also be used. Form is the way that a sermon is presented. If you have a good text but have poor form than your sermon is likely to be just okay. This chapter discusses the importance of sermon forms as well as giving a survey of different forms used for sermons.

Form and Development

There are six functions of form in a sermon. First, it will reshape the form of the text (141). If it doesn’t then the preacher would just be repeating the text that was probably already read at some point during the service. Second, it will affect the way the hearers respond (141). Third, it sets the expectations of the audience (141). Fourth, it keeps people interested (14). Fifth, it determines audience participation (14). Sixth, form affects the attitude that the hears will take toward the sermon (14).

Forms are generally based in one of two directions. The first is known as deduction. Deductive sermons are sermons that start with the main idea then give all the sub points and other things after it. This is where the ever-popular three-point sermon probably fits in. The advantage of the deductive sermon is that the point is clearly stated at the beginning of the sermon and then is reinforced by the rest of the sermon (14).

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The next most popular direction for a sermon is the inductive. This sermon is just the opposite of the deductive. It starts with the small point and builds to create a main idea. The advantage of this sort of sermon is that it allows the hearers to put the pieces of the theme together as it is developed in the sermon. The hearers become participants (144).

It is also possible to combine the two directions. When you do you can have a deductive- inductive sermon or an inductive- deductive sermon. Deductive- inductive sermons are cyclical. They start with the main point, go on to the sub- points then restate the main point. Inductive- deductive sermons are chiastic . They start with the particulars, then state the main point, then give more particulars (14).

The Didactic Form

Didactic sermons are deductive almost always. The sermon will generally state the basic them then develop that theme through various sub points through out the sermon. This is a simple form and the book recommends that beginners start with this form and then move on to other forms. The advantages to this form are that, first, the theme summarizes the message of the text and the sub points are taken out of the text itself (146). It also gives its hearers a logical progression. The arguments against this form are many. First, this form is not �Biblical’ more than it is Greek. That means that messages in the Bible were not written down or presented in a neat little outline. It also steers away from the movement of the story, forcing it to be logical and not story like. Finally, probably because of the other earlier mentioned points, in reshaping the text the preacher may be in danger of missing the point of the text.

The Narrative Form

The narrative form is gaining in popularity. This form tells a story. It uses natural progression to build a main idea. That is why many narrative sermons are inductive. The advantages of this form are many. First it allows you to stay true to the form of the text, and thus stay true to the theme of the text. Next it gives the sermon a forward direction. I t also allows the hearers to be more involved. The disadvantages of this form are also many. First, a preacher can overuse this form, and then not communicate effectively with logical texts (15). Second, It can take the story away from its larger role in the Bible. Also, a poorly put together one can fail to make its point (15).

When considering which form to use the wise choice is just stay true to the text. If the text is narrative be narrative. If the text is deductive be deductive (154).

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