It’s Sunday morning, and you are standing in the pulpit before a waiting congregation. You are a little nervous but excited to deliver the sermon you prepared. You read the Scripture and announce the title of the sermon. You open your mouth and begin to deliver your message. As you envision this moment, reflect on this question: What is your primary goal when preaching a sermon?
Some of us preach to inform people. Our sermons are loaded with facts and statistics about people and places in the Bible. Some of us want to inspire people. We preach sermons that infuse hope in hearts full of despair. Some of us preach to instruct. We want people to know how to do something like pray, forgive the unforgivable, or live a godly life in an ungodly world. And some of us most likely do not have a primary goal at all; we just preach.
I asked myself this same question about fifteen years ago. After thinking about it for a few days, I discovered my primary goal for preaching: to deliver life-changing sermons. Although I like to think my sermons are a balanced mix of information, inspiration, and instruction, my ultimate purpose is to change lives. I hope people will conform to the image of Christ. I pray people will look, live, and love like Jesus Christ when they hear my sermons. I asked one church member how my sermons had changed her life. She replied with the following statement: “Your sermons help me see who I am in Christ and how much God loves me. Your sermons help with my self-esteem and discovering my purpose in life. Your sermons encourage us to grow and thrive in our relationship with God. You also give tools so we can read the Bible and understand it for ourselves.” So how do I preach life-changing sermons? The secret is simple. I preach the text!
Have you ever heard a preacher read a passage of Scripture but preach an unrelated subject? This type of preaching is confusing for the congregation. Confusing preaching is the number-one reason Christians give me when they are searching for a new church to attend. At different times, we’ve probably all been guilty of preaching confusing sermons. There is a surefire way to avoid this, however; that is to preach the text.
Why do some preachers read a text but preach a different subject? I think the primary reason is because they are not trained in preparing sermons that focus on the text. Therefore, they focus on preaching a topic instead of the biblical text. But oftentimes this results in sermons that are scattered, unfocused, and unconnected to the Word of God. Each time I stand before my congregation, I want to preach the text I read with understanding and application. Tony Evans, Jim Shaddix, Martha Simmons, and Beth Moore are effective communicators because they focus on the biblical text. Preaching the text is the key to preaching a life-changing sermon.
How, you may be asking, can you learn to preach the text? How can you prepare a life-changing sermon? The answer is in your hands. This book will teach you the six steps for developing and delivering a life-changing sermon. If you read this book, you will learn how to seek the Spirit, select your Scripture, study the Scripture, structure your sermon, speak in the Spirit, and share the Savior. Each chapter includes personal illustrations, a profile of a preacher who demonstrates that step, and words of wisdom from a preacher on how to implement it. As a pastor and scholar with more than twenty years of ministry experience, I am bringing the seminary classroom to your study. If you are ready to change your church and community, this book is for you! Turn the page and take the first step to preaching life-changing sermons.
 See The Power of Preaching: Crafting a Creative Expository Sermon by Tony Evans; Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons by Jim Shaddix; and Doing the Deed: The Mechanics of 21st Century Preaching by Martha Simmons for their approach to preaching biblical messages.
This post is adapted from Preaching Life-Changing Sermons: Six Steps to Developing and Delivering Biblical Messages by Jesse L. Nelson, which is scheduled to release on May 10, 2022. If you are interested in adopting this book for a college or seminary course, please request a faculty examination copy. We will also consider requests for your blog or media outlets.
A how-to guide for preparing and delivering Spirit-filled, biblical messages that make an impact
Being called to preach is a tremendous commission. In Preaching Life-Changing Sermons, Jesse L. Nelson shares a simple process for effective expository sermon preparation and delivery, flavored with insights from his life in ministry and academic work. Those with teaching and preaching responsibilities with little to no seminary training will learn practical steps they can use today in their ministry.
Nelson outlines the six foundations of life-changing preaching and shows how each looks in the everyday life of a pastor:
- Seek the Spirit
- Select the Scripture
- Study the Scripture
- Structure the Sermon
- Speak in the Spirit
- Share the Savior
Handling God’s Word rightly through prayer, sermon preparation, and sermon delivery sets the stage for people to absorb the message. When the Spirit moves as Scripture speaks, souls are changed–and the call to preach becomes an exciting, transformative adventure.