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Sermon Application - What is your process?

(This was originally posted on 3/27/19).

At any given time in the year, the WARBC Council is usually reading a book together. We like reading the same book and then discussing it at our meetings. Currently, we are reading Applying the Sermon by Daniel Overdorf. Here is an excerpt:

The Bible itself displays how God’s great truths work out in people’s lives in the circumstances they faced. Part of the preacher’s responsibility involves explaining how the same great truths might work out in the circumstances listeners face today. Fulfilling this responsibility requires a preacher to observe the truth that a particular text offered in its ancient context and then to bridge that timeless truth to a contemporary context. – Applying the Sermon by Daniel Overdorf - p.44.

The Bible was not written to us, so we need to be very careful in our interpretation/application of Scripture. Once we have the proper understanding of the text as it was initially intended, we can then benefit from the reality that the Bible was written for us.

Do you take time in your sermon preparation for application or do you just “let the Spirit apply it”? I am by no means attempting to circumvent the work of the Spirit in our messages, but if that is our approach, I can guarantee that our sermons are not hitting home. If we aim at everybody, we hit no one.

So, what are some guidelines you use in determining sermon application?

Overdorf provides a helpful sermon application worksheet in his book. If you would like a copy of it, comment below and I will email you a pdf of it.

Additionally, here are a few thoughts I have put together regarding making sermon application:

1. Make your application points for a variety of ages. We tend to apply the sermon to people in our own age group. Younger preachers need to be intentional about thinking through how a sermon should benefit someone in their twilight years.

On the other hand, silver-haired preachers must remember what it was like to be a college student, young parent, or an acne-faced teen boy wondering if any girls will ever even look at him.

2. Make your application points for people in various life circumstances. Similar to the first point, this suggestion calls the preacher to think through people in the same age brackets but separate life situations. A single mother may be the same age as her friend who has a husband and no children, but the sermon application should be different.

3. Aim for holistic application. I use the rubric of Head, Hands, Heart (not original with me).

Head = what you want them to know. Heart = what you want them to believe/feel. Hands = what you want them to do.

Our personalities tend to herd us into one of those categories. I’m much more inclined to think of application points for my sermons that would call us to action (Hands). Conversely, a friend of mine has the propensity to direct his sermon application to knowledge (Head). Consistently, shoot for all three in your sermons.

We would love to hear from you. What guides your thinking when it comes to sermon application?

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