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The sermon is not a Biblical lecture designed to inform the hearer of some interesting facts. It is not merely a place where you can learn different stories from the Bible. Certainly it includes that, but it is more than that.

The sermon is a vehicle for an encounter with the Most High God. This encounter does “inform,” but it also provides hope, healing, direction, salvation, etc. Because of this, preachers should embed in the sermon an expectation of a response from the congregation.

This response may be a heartfelt question like, “What must I do to be saved?” The response might be an assurance that God will be with us through a painful circumstance. The response might be a resolve to live with more loyalty to God’s coming Kingdom. There may be other responses, but the point is that the encounter with God changes humanity, and that change will manifest itself in some way.

Every sermon should ask the people for some sort of response. However, before one can ask such a thing, the preacher must connect what is taught to the lived experience of the congregation.

Doctrinal Sermons Need to Connect to Human Experience

Many sermons, especially “doctrinal” ones, neglect this connection to human experience. We preachers sometimes think that preaching the “truth” is all that is needed. So we preach sermons that follow an outline much like the following:

1. Teach the doctrine.
2. Defend the doctrine from a few angles.
3. Tell people they need to believe the doctrine.

I heard a sermon on the Trinity like this. The preacher read a few texts that taught the doctrine of the Trinity. The preacher then defended the doctrine from a few attacks that are sometimes heard. The preacher then closed by calling us all to hold on to this doctrine. He then sat down. Note that the people don’t know why the doctrine is important. They do not know how to apply it in daily life.

Lowry’s Homiletical Plot Approach

In contrast, I read where Eugene Lowry stated the following on page 18 of the book, Homiletical Plot:

I am considering the possibility of a doctrinal sermon on the Trinity, the preliminary question to be asked is: What problem or bind does the trinitarian formula resolve?

Here the preacher will be looking at how the doctrine solves some problem. Does the Trinity tell us something about community? Does the Trinity guide us in some way? Perhaps the Trinity provides a vehicle for understanding God’s total investment in humanity’s salvation. Whatever the case, when we go to preach a doctrine, it should be connected to human experience if we expect to be able to make an appeal to the importance of the doctrine.

Now it is true that some people neglect doctrine as if it is unimportant. That is another issue we shall take up later. But when you preach doctrine, informing others is important, but helping the people to understand the doctrine in such a way that it will change the way they live is also important. And most important is to allow the doctrine to facilitate the encounter with the God that we hope to experience in the worship service.

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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Chet Gladkowski

commented on Jul 2, 2013

The Trinity is absolutely vital to our view of God, our place before him and many other foundational/distinctive truths found in Jesus and Scripture. For example, the Trinity teaches us that God is love. If God were a monad, then there is no room for personal love and devotion. How can you "give" yourself to love if there is no one else there? A sermon without doctrinal truth is just another talk show.

Buddy Cook

commented on Jul 2, 2013

I was encouraged as a young pastor to preach doctrine practically and practics doctrinally. If our doctrine does not affect how we live it has no value in this world. Jesus prayed 'thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. If how we live becomes disconnected from our doctrine we are like those Paul mentions who 'buffet the wind' or those in Judges which 'did that which was right in his own eyes'. our task as a preacher is to connect our belief in God with the world in which we live.

Casey Scott

commented on Jul 2, 2013

Great thoughts! Thanks brother Cox!

Lance Hostetter

commented on Jul 2, 2013

If you are preaching from the Bible you are preaching doctrine.

Alexander L. Gibson

commented on Jul 2, 2013

Pastor Cox! I loved your article,but the comment that I have is this, we who have been given the opportunity to unpack God's word to His people must be able to teach them the whole counsel of God.There are going to be times that according to your article we are not going to be able to "connect" to those who we stand before. Yes It's are duty to be proficient, but it is also the responsibility of our audience to listen and then go behind us and test the spirit by the spirit. I believe that if we ask for and understanding of the text even if its doctrinal or not that He will aid in our understanding.

Minister Sanders

commented on Jul 5, 2013

When we are preaching God's Holy Word we must preach it with sound doctrine according to the Scriptures and give an application of how God's Word relates to us in the world today and in our everyday lives.

Vincent Aja

commented on Jul 5, 2013

Most people cannot still understand the difference between preaching and teaching. I think that pastors should do the preaching on Sunday morning, and take any of the week days to teach their congregations. 30 to 45 minutes are not enough to teach anybody, that`s why on the Sunday morning a pastor is on the pulpit to build up the congregants; then on week days the pastor will spend the time with the congregants.... It is during the time of teaching that we map out time to explain or define what the doctrines were, and why they made Christianity distinctive from every other religion. Once again preaching and teaching are two different things, and the lack of understanding this makes someone to say I`m going to teach you the Bible on Sunday morning. And sometimes people do come back later in the week to continue to repeat what they have said on the Sunday morning. So, the bottom-line is that when we begin to teach the believers the Christian doctrines they will grow in more knowledge; and it`s becoming so difficult these days when Christianity is under attack from every angle. Most Christians that have spent 10 to 20 years in the Churches cannot even explain what is "Trinity", and so many people cannot even voice out the difference between the Judeo-Christian God and the gods of other religions. Why? because nobody is teaching them, and when those it was their duties to teach them do not know the difference, they stayed starving their congregations . This is a very nice topic Pastor Cox. (Nehemiah 8:8).

Guillaume Malumbi

commented on Jul 5, 2013

I agree that we as Pastors/preachers need to connect with the congregation and spend more time in teaching about the Doctrine. The teaching can take the whole month as long there's connection with the congregation. Doctrine is vital and it differentiate your type of Salvation, Each church should be able to teach Doctrine which is the basic foundation of All the Christians. We need to follow Paul's teachings.

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