In an article by Matt Woodley at, he offers a useful introduction to the concept of Big Idea preaching, popularized by Haddon Robinson. Matt writes:

Exegesis and commentaries may help you break the text down into lots of little pieces. The big idea should take all those little pieces and put them back together into one sentence framed in contemporary terms. During your study of your preaching text, you’re asking questions about what the text meant to the author and the original audience; but in this stage, preachers ask the following question: What does this text mean for us today? In other words, if somebody came into your study, how would you express that concept to the person sitting across the desk from you?

Every big idea should have the following components:
• It should be a complete declarative sentence so it is something we can actually say in the sermon.
• It should be said in about 12 words or less. Short and memorable is preferred.
• It shouldn’t have conjunctions (ands, ifs, buts) because conjunctions usually introduce a second idea. Remember the big idea is about one thing, not two or three good things.
• It ought to be image-rich (visual) and suggestive to the listeners.

Here are some examples of crisp big ideas written after sound exegetical work:
• God remains faithful to His faithless people. (Based on Jeremiah 31.)
• You can’t have two masters ranked No.1 in your heart. (Based on Matthew 6:24.) You also could borrow a big idea from Bob Dylan—”You gotta serve somebody.”
• God has a plan for His children to grow up together. (Based on Ephesians 4:11-16.)
• Confessing our sins leads to freedom. (Based on Psalm 32:1-5.)
• God’s glory shines through our cracks. (Based on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.) (Click to read the full article.)

Share This On: