Is it better to preach larger passages or one or two verses?

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Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm just wondering what those of you who preach think about preaching verses or passages i.e chapters.

I tend towards large passages of scripture and seek to work through it drawing on particular emphases each time.

Others, it seems, will perhaps just use one verse and build there sermon around it.

Which do you think is best?

E.g I'm considering preaching from 1 Peter chapter 1 and drawing out several aspects which I think are relevant on this occasion. The concerns I have is 1) there is just so much rich content 2) Trying to cover too much could lose depth and end up being an overview. 3) Will it overload the congregation?

However I feel focusing on just one or two verses will limit me and not allow me to paint the bigger picture for the congregation.

For example in in 1 Peter 1 some of the key points which are coming to me are (excuse the lack of specific references its late and I'm just about to go to bed)

1) The source of faith (Foreknowledge)
2) The basis of Faith (The redeeming work of Christ on the cross)
3) The means of faith (the new birth)
4) The walk of faith (Strangers in the world/sanctification/obedience unto Christ)
5) The test of faith (suffering/persecution/trials
6) The outcome of faith (salvation)
7) The permenancy of faith (kept by the power of God through faith

Now the problem I have in sermon prep is that as I develop key poinst I suddenly feel that each of these points could be a sermon in their own right! And this often continues with the sub points!

Anyway, each of these points is based on one or two texts. For those of you who are seasoned preachers would you suggest 1) take one text/point as one sermon or would you do the 'overview' and try and preach the wider context.

P.S I am a visiting preacher so it is not my congregation and I do not have the priveledge of teaching them over a longer period.
 

WaywardNowHome

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not a preacher or pastor so I can't really answer your question (yet!).

However, in regards to your 1 Peter problem: Why not split it up into a series? :)
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
You don't have to go into great detail. Just cover some things the congregation might not have known or understood or noticed, and move on. If you're only preaching once...
 

Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm just wondering what those of you who preach think about preaching verses or passages i.e chapters.

I tend towards large passages of scripture and seek to work through it drawing on particular emphases each time.

Others, it seems, will perhaps just use one verse and build there sermon around it.

Which do you think is best?

E.g I'm considering preaching from 1 Peter chapter 1 and drawing out several aspects which I think are relevant on this occasion. The concerns I have is 1) there is just so much rich content 2) Trying to cover too much could lose depth and end up being an overview. 3) Will it overload the congregation?

However I feel focusing on just one or two verses will limit me and not allow me to paint the bigger picture for the congregation.

For example in in 1 Peter 1 some of the key points which are coming to me are (excuse the lack of specific references its late and I'm just about to go to bed)

1) The source of faith (Foreknowledge)
2) The basis of Faith (The redeeming work of Christ on the cross)
3) The means of faith (the new birth)
4) The walk of faith (Strangers in the world/sanctification/obedience unto Christ)
5) The test of faith (suffering/persecution/trials
6) The outcome of faith (salvation)
7) The permenancy of faith (kept by the power of God through faith

Now the problem I have in sermon prep is that as I develop key poinst I suddenly feel that each of these points could be a sermon in their own right! And this often continues with the sub points!

Anyway, each of these points is based on one or two texts. For those of you who are seasoned preachers would you suggest 1) take one text/point as one sermon or would you do the 'overview' and try and preach the wider context.

P.S I am a visiting preacher so it is not my congregation and I do not have the priveledge of teaching them over a longer period.

Unfortunately I am not preaching at the church over a seven week period.
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
The passage itself often dictates how much of the text one takes for a given sermon. There are times it is appropriate to take a large chunk of scripture and provide an overviews. I’ve even heard sermons giving an overview of some aspect of a whole book. Typically, I find it difficult to preach on large sections of the epistles, each one to five verse section is so packed. Also, I find if I go to the pulpit with too much, I preach too long, and some important points might be lost in the whole. I’m probably a better preacher when I limit what I’m trying to say to a few points concisely stated. One of the most important matters I consider is how much of the text I’ll take for the next message. If you preach on the whole chapter, realize you will not cover everything therein.
 

Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
The passage itself often dictates how much of the text one takes for a given sermon. There are times it is appropriate to take a large chunk of scripture and provide an overviews. I’ve even heard sermons giving an overview of some aspect of a whole book. Typically, I find it difficult to preach on large sections of the epistles, each one to five verse section is so packed. Also, I find if I go to the pulpit with too much, I preach too long, and some important points might be lost in the whole. I’m probably a better preacher when I limit what I’m trying to say to a few points concisely stated. One of the most important matters I consider is how much of the text I’ll take for the next message. If you preach on the whole chapter, realize you will not cover everything therein.

Thanks Glen.

The problem that I seem to be having is

1) the context of 1 Peter is suffering/trials/persecution

Peter deals with this by drawing out great truths about salvation inorder to 1)encourage them 2) ebable them to stand 3) live lives of holiness

I am keen to communicate to the church that 1) during difficult times people need hope but they hope they need is not nice words. Peter gives the believers something much greater and stronger than nice words. He gives them an anchor because an anchor is what they need. This anchor comes in the form of the gospel of Christ. The 'seven 'points' mentioned above are drawn from key verses within the chapter. I guess, in theory, I am not preaching the whole chapter, I will read the whole chapter and then draw out these key texts which I believe draws out the central theme of the chapter (and the book for that matter).

I got slightly worried when I saw that John Piper has preached some of these things but he does it in bite size chunks.

Maybe I can lose a few of the points without taking away too much from the central theme i.e the points on sanctification and perseverance of the saints. My fear is that I may 'overload'.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
I know this is not at ALL specific but it depends! I have heard Pastors do both...and very well I should add! If you want a Big-Picture you cover more verses some verses are "deep" and it is great to preach on these to edify, and explain, at times it can help open up the broader context of a given chapter.:2cents:
 
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Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree with the "it depends" answer. What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do?
:2cents:

I think the leading is to draw out the truths I have highlighted from the context of the whole chapter.

I guess I'm also just aware that I want to be more 'expository' in my preaching (I've been transitioning from a thematic preacher to an expository preacher over the last three years or so).

In my sermon prep, when I visited Piper's sermons I couldn't help but notice that what I had as sermon points he had as individual sermons! Hence the concern about overloading the congregation.
 

BlueVark

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not an ordained preacher so take all that I say with the proverbial grain of salt.

When I teach, my tendency is to rely too much on what "other people" have said or done in the past and not enough on what the Holy Spirit is currently teaching me through the scripture. I have found my most effective lessons were prepared with a good mixture of other pilgrim's teachings, but depended mostly on Divine revelation through scripture applied to my current situations. It has been a tough lesson for me to learn, especially since I don't have a formal, reformed, religious education. But, I have learned much from fellow pilgrims, past and present, and strive to always teach based on my own prompting from the Holy Spirit.

SDG...Mike
 

Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am not an ordained preacher so take all that I say with the proverbial grain of salt.

When I teach, my tendency is to rely too much on what "other people" have said or done in the past and not enough on what the Holy Spirit is currently teaching me through the scripture. I have found my most effective lessons were prepared with a good mixture of other pilgrim's teachings, but depended mostly on Divine revelation through scripture applied to my current situations. It has been a tough lesson for me to learn, especially since I don't have a formal, reformed, religious education. But, I have learned much from fellow pilgrims, past and present, and strive to always teach based on my own prompting from the Holy Spirit.

SDG...Mike


I've came at it the other way. Seekin God through prayer, what he is saying through the text and seeking to be Spirit led and annointed in my delivery.

Only in recent years have I discovered the need for commentaries, solid exegesis and the voice of the church over 2000 years (the good voices ;) )

However it needs both. Spirit inspired and biblically grounded and informed.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I am not a pastor either but I heard John MacArthur say he won't be contrained by homiletics. If he needs more time for a passage, or verse he'll carry on the next week. He starts with the books as a whole, then breaks it down but doesn't feel compelled to a cookie cutter sermon if more time is needed in the text.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I agree with Glenn's comments and will only add that I think it depends on the genre of the passage you are preaching. In OT narrative, I usually take a whole chapter at a time (or one complete story, which may be more or less than a chapter). In the NT, I almost never take a whole chapter at a time. It is too dense. I am almost through 1 Peter (two sermons left), and it will be a total of 24 sermons. You need to resist the urge to blast through the epistles in a quick fashion. Modern day preaching is way too prone to merely scratching the surface, without wrestling with the real issues. I find the epistles to be the densest, and consequently take them the slowest (and Paul slower than the others; I think I preached almost 60 sermons on Ephesians, and had to leave out oodles of material). OT narrative is the least dense, and consequently I take it at a good clip.
 

Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree with Glenn's comments and will only add that I think it depends on the genre of the passage you are preaching. In OT narrative, I usually take a whole chapter at a time (or one complete story, which may be more or less than a chapter). In the NT, I almost never take a whole chapter at a time. It is too dense. I am almost through 1 Peter (two sermons left), and it will be a total of 24 sermons. You need to resist the urge to blast through the epistles in a quick fashion. Modern day preaching is way too prone to merely scratching the surface, without wrestling with the real issues. I find the epistles to be the densest, and consequently take them the slowest (and Paul slower than the others; I think I preached almost 60 sermons on Ephesians, and had to leave out oodles of material). OT narrative is the least dense, and consequently I take it at a good clip.

Yeah, that has been my concern as I have been studying this chapter in preperation for the sermon.

Thanks for the advise!
 
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