This article is basically a summary of John Chapman’s method of preparing a Bible Talk. For a much more comprehensive treatment, check out his brilliant book "Setting Hearts on Fire" from Matthias Media. “Chappo”, who was recently called home to be with the Lord, was one of the most experienced and gifted evangelists in Australia. The book particularly focuses on preparing an evangelistic message, but I use his structure as the basis for all of my talks.
Preaching matters. According to Romans 10:13-15, if people don’t preach, people won’t hear the good news of Jesus, they won’t believe the good news of Jesus and they won’t call on the name of the Lord to be saved. Preaching is a big deal! Not all preaching is done from behind a pulpit, or black music stand, and preaching is much more than delivering a sermon.
So with that in minds, here's the 10 steps involved in preparing to preach from the Bible.
This might seem like an obvious place to start, but often in the busyness of life this is often forgotten. I like to try and pray regularly throughout the whole of the preparation phase. Continue to pray that God would illumine the scriptures to you and that he’d enable you to understand them in a way that you can clearly communicate them.
2. Selecting the Passage of Scripture
If your talk comes in a series where a particular book of the Bible is being studied, your choice has already been made! If you’re given a topic to preach on, find a passage of scripture which deals with the subject. Eg: If you wanted to speak on the subject of the second coming of Jesus, then 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 would be ideal.
3. Selecting the ‘Big Idea’ & 'Big Question' from the passage
a. Read the passage several times and make sure that you can understand what the words mean and where they occur in the particular book (its context). The purpose of this is to establish the main thrust of the passage. This ‘ Big Idea’, which really is another name for ‘aim’ will determine what we say in the talk, the verses we use, the way we illustrate the talk, the application we use and the way we introduce the talk. Use all the help you can get in doing this (Commentaries etc).
b. Establish the ‘Big Question’ that the ‘Big Idea’ is answering – you will raise this in your introduction and it will help to drive your whole talk as you answer the question throughout.
4. What convinced you that this was the big idea?
Analyse the passage and note down the different reasons for ideas which convinced you of your conclusion. These will make up the points of the structure of the talk. If you have a young audience or a short time slot, you may only have 1 point in your talk.
5. The structure and the body of the talk
What will you do with these ‘points’ so that they are ‘fleshed out’ and turned into an informative and interesting piece of Christian instruction?
a. State the Point – If you were writing this talk in a letter for someone to read you would underline it because it was important and you wanted to make sure that they didn’t miss important parts. We can do this by changing the pace of our speaking , change the volume, say the words again, say the idea again with different words or pause and say nothing just let the words sink in.
b. Show the Point – Show me where you found this in the passage. The exercise is not an oral essay or a meditation on the passage but on where I am saying to you ‘come and look with me at what the Bible is saying to us all.
c. Explain the Point – Tell me what this point really means and why it is important to you understanding of the big idea. Since you are handling the Word of God it is important to be sure that you understand the passage means so you can explain it clearly.
d. Illustrate the Point – You have explained the point now tell us something which the point is like. It might be true or one you have made up. It may be a ‘one liner‘ or a story. What ever it is make sure that it illustrates the point.
e. Apply the Point – Tell me how this truth from God’s word should effect the way I live my life. Don’t leave it to the end.
(If you have 3 points in your talk, you will repeat this process (state, show, explain, illustrate, apply) another 2 times).
Since you will have applied the different points which have been made, the conclusion simply consists of gathering up these applications and relating them to the big idea. Do this briefly. Don’t give the whole talk all over again.
Although this is the first thing said it is last to prepare. It should arouse interest, set the scene for the Big Idea, and automatically lead into the talk.
8. Write out the talk
This needs to be done as you speak and not as you write. This can be a difficult exercise.
9. Reduce this to notes
Very few people can read talks and make them sound interesting. You are speaking to people and you must be able to look at them and make them feel that you are talking to them or maybe even discussing something with them. Your notes need to be full enough to enable you to do this.
10. Practise the talk
This will need to be done several times. You should note how long it will take. You may want some changes when you ‘hear it’. It can be helpful to practise your talk in front of a mirror.
Go on – what are you waiting for! Have a crack at it…