Def: Homiletics: The art and science of preparing and preaching a sermon.
If you intend to teach from a passage of Scripture, using homiletics is an excellent method of studying a passage for this specific purpose. There are six steps in the process of homiletics: Prayer, Topics & Events, Outline, Subject Sentence, Aim, and Application questions. Although this process appears formulaic, it consistently provides clarity to Bible passages and turns them into focused application questions that challenge you to enhance your walk with God.
- Prayer – Every Bible study starts with prayer. The Holy Spirit has been promised to us to help us understand God’s Word, and prayer is a necessary component in quieting our hearts and opening our minds to His direction.
- Topics & Events – On a worksheet, list about 20 to 30 topics and events in the passage. If the passage is short, the topics and events may be one or two phrases per verse. For a longer passage, each topic or event may span several verses. When writing the topics and events, be sure to write the appropriate verse alongside it.
- Outline – Group the topics and events into several divisions or main thoughts. Usually, this will result in 3-5 divisions and this becomes your outline. For each division, write a brief sentence describing the key thought of that division. Again, write the appropriate verses alongside each division. You may find it helpful to list your outline next to your list of topics and events.
- Subject Sentence – After reviewing your outline, create a complete sentence that summarizes your outline and the passage in question. Ideally, the subject sentence will be about ten words long and should drive the audience directly to the specific passage in question.
- Aim – Write a sentence that describes the main thought you want to convey to your audience as you are teaching this passage. What do you want your audience learn when hearing this message? The aim will complete the following sentence: “Cause me to ..”. Use action verbs, not passive verbs.
- Applications – Using the Outline from step 3, write at least one application question for each division. Avoid questions that allow one-word answers. Ideally, the questions should focus on ‘how’ or ‘why’. Pose the question to yourself and challenge yourself in light of the emphasis of your outline. For example, if the passage is on prayer, a suitable question will be “How do I pray for my family?” and not “Do I pray for my family?”
Once you’ve completed all six steps, you’ll be well on your way to writing a sermon to deliver the thoughts and insights that God has laid on your heart. Be sure to read reliable commentaries and other Bible study tools for additional insight, related passages or context to help you gain a deeper understanding on the passage.