Charles Swindoll is one of the best-known Christian preachers and teachers in American. He is the Senior Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, and Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Swindoll has written over 70 books and is the voice of the “Insight for Living” radio program. In this segment, he talks about writing a sermon.

Preaching: I know you work very carefully
on your messages. You told me in a prior interview that as you write a
sermon you’ll run it by other people, staff members or others, before
preaching. As you are looking at a message in anticipation of preaching
it—you mentioned sometimes you look at it and realize it just isn’t
going to connect. Are there some things you can look for that help you
recognize that?

 Swindoll: It really
hurts when it happens early Sunday morning and you know that’s a bad
introduction, that you can’t use it. I remember going back in and
scratching out what I wrote in my notes and putting a 3×5 card there in
place of it, which is better; I’m always glad when I’ve done that. I
always go with my gut with things like that. I’ve learned the gut is
rarely wrong.

Preaching: Are
there some cues that you look at as you’re looking at a message—you’ve
been working on it, and something triggers for you that sense that this
just isn’t going to do it?

 Swindoll:
Yes. If it takes too long a time to get to the kernel of what I’m
saying, I’m getting too tedious. See, I get very excited about Greek
words; if I’m not careful, I want everybody around me to be just as
excited!Now for them to be as excited, I’ve got to connect the meaning
of that word with something in their [lives].

Theasthai is an example—theater
is the word we get from it, and the drama of the theater comes to mind.
If I were to deal with that word in the text, I would use the drama,
the theater; and I would spend more time on that than on the etymology
of the word, for example. A person doesn’t need to know that it’s
rooted in such-and-such a term, that it means so-and-so. Years ago, I
would have gone into all of that, and that’s much too tedious. If it
requires tedious explanation, it’s too much for the hearer.

I am
also asking, “Does that make sense?” I ask myself that 20 times in
preparing a message. “Does that make sense?” I’ll say that to myself:
“Does that make sense?” I’m in Mark 1:30—about
verses 29 to 39 next Sunday—and toward the middle of that section, I’m
dealing with demonism, casting out demons. I want to say something
about it, but I don’t want to go into a whole theology of demonology.
However, not going there somewhat leaves them hanging.

 (Click here to read the last segment.)

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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