When the passage doesn’t produce a sermon – five useful questions to ask.

Leave a comment

20/04/2017 by Chris Green

This morning, I stared, blankly, at the passage. Again. I’ve run through all the major commentaries, and although they all had lots to say on the text, none of them has anything would really preach. Their stuff was interesting, closely observed, even, but not the kind of message to get people leaving their seats and walking down the aisles.

I wasn’t even sure it would get them walking down the aisles and into their seats in the first place.

A couple of commentaries had a homiletical focus –  any use?  Nope, they broadened the focus and smudged the text into other, similar passages.  Having to say something, but having nothing really to say, they bulked out their word count with cross references.

I recognised that cheap trick, because it’s one I’ve used too.

Several of my bibles have application as a focus – any use?  Nope, they all, irritatingly, give good insights on the sections either side of my preaching passage, and gave me nothing here.

So, I’ve gone back to the old questions again, for myself.

  • Why is this passage here?  Context, context, context.  It can’t simply be repetition (though it looks like it, initially), and it can’t be idling around waiting for the next section  to begin.  There has to be a reason for it being right here.  Find it.
  • I’m more persuaded than ever that no part of the Bible is there for mere information, even if that information is Christocentric.  It is always there to do something to us – move us to pray, to obey, to praise… something.  So, what is this passage designed to do to its reader(s)?  What is its designed impact?
  • What is its emotional range and tone?  Does it move us, change us, thrill us or scare us?  How does it leave us different?
  • What is unique?  What would I never know, if this wasn’t here?
  • Why should it grab our attention?  I took the passage to a local coffee shop, and watched the customers over a flat white.  What does this passage have to say to 21st century urbanites, most of whom gave up on the god-idea years ago?  How does this prise open their questions, address their fears and hopes, shift their distracted focus onto Christ?

These are old questions, of course.  But there’s something fruitful in forcing ourselves, occasionally, to be really precise with a pen and paper.

What are the old questions that you need to keep remembering?  Pile in!

CLICK HERE to join my email list, and you’ll get a free eBook, and occasional updates from me. I hate spam too, so I won’t share your email with anyone else.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Shortlisted for “Most Inspiring Leadership Blog, 2018”

New resource

Pastors are busy, and leading a church is a demanding task.  That’s why I wrote this e-bookchecklist: The Pastor’s Checkup – The Top 10 Questions every pastor needs to answer (and helpful stuff if you can’t)

There’s only way to get it is by subscribing to my  (occasional) email newsletter here.


God, Suffering and Joy

A conversation between me (with cancer) and Michael (with Multiple Sclerosis)

Legal stuff

This blog does not share personal information with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyse and optimise your content and reading experience. I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without my permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

I welcome your participation on the Ministrynutsandbolts site, and invite you to share ideas elsewhere on what you learn and read here. At the same time, I ask that you respect my intellectual property rights in the process.

You are welcome to link to my site or any specific post on my site, extract and re-post less than 200 words on any other site, provided you link back to my original post, or print my posts in any non-commercial publication (e.g., company newsletter, class syllabus, church newsletter, etc.), provided you include this copyright notice: “© 2017 Chris Green. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.ministrynutsandbolts.com.”

Please do not do the following without written consent: Re-post one of my posts in its entirety anywhere else on the Internet, use this content for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of my content, or alter, transform, or build upon this work.

If you have some use for my content that is not covered here, please contact me. If you would like me to do a guest post on your blog, email me at ministrynutsandbolts@gmail.com

Copyright does not apply to the titles of books, but transparency means I should own that the title of the blog is taken from the excellent ‘Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary ‘ by Aubrey Malphurs (Kregel: 2nd edn. 2009)

© 2018 Chris Green

%d bloggers like this: