When you’re in the fog of sermon preparation, sometimes a simple reminder of what you’re trying to do, the basic movements and goals, is so helpful. I am grateful for Bryan Chapell’s brief summary of a sermon’s flow. I thought I would reproduce it here. (The paragraphing and bolded summaries are mine).
State the Main Point
“If a main point unfolds according to the standard expository format described earlier, the exposition begins with a statement of the main point addressing the FCF (Fallen Condition Focus).
Explain the Main Point
“Explanation–usually in subpoints–then supports, clarifies, or proves the main point. If an illustration follows the subpoints then the subpoints first need to be summarized, since the ear expects the illustration to reflect the last thing said. This summary thus serves as the de facto introduction to the illustration. Because such a summary encapsulates the explanation of the main point it will likely sound very similar to the main-point statement that the subpoints all support.
Illustrate the Main Point
“The illustration of that statement unfolds in a narrative that echoes key terms of the explanation. These key terms rain into the illustration to keep its concepts and terminology consistent with the explanation. The illustration the concludes with a grouping (or interpreting) statement that reaches into the narrative and pulls the key thoughts into another summary statement. Since this statement summarizes a story that itself unfold from a summary statement of the explanation, it is likely that the illustration’s summary statement will echo the main point. But more than merely concluding the illustration this grouping statement is also an introduction to the application.
Apply the Main Point
“The overarching principle statement needs real-life delineation. So, give specific instructions that reflect what people can (or should) do, believe, or affirm in order to apply the general principle to their lives. Word these instructions with the key terms of the explanation that have rained through the illustration and now flow through the application. This expositional rain keeps the instructions in contact with the earlier explanation calling to the listener’s mind and ear the biblical authority that backs them.” ((Adapted from Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching, pp. 211-213))
Of course, the size, scope, and even order of each of these elements can vary, but no doubt, this is a good reminder of the meat and potatoes of clear preaching.