Chapter 17: Simple Sermons
I write this today to give some practical and simple guidelines to those who are compelled to share the word of God but may struggle with any of the following:
- Do not have a Bible school training
- Do not have opportunity to study the Bible for hours at a time
- Are brand new to the Bible
This simple guide can be used by pastors and by lay persons to prepare a simple sermon, a Bible study class, or to simply share a personal testimony.
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,” Proverbs 1:5 ESV
1. Read God’s word daily
The Bible is best when we make it a part of our every day. Bit by bit, reading little by little, we will become familiar with its pages and all that God has to teach us through it.
Reading the Bible on a daily basis is like tithing a tenth of our day to God. It can be hard to take the time to read the Bible, but when we do we by our actions declare our trust of Him over our lives and our desire to honour him each day.
Note: always begin with a simple prayer of invitation for God to teach you. Like this,
“God I come today in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. I invite your revelation to my mind and heart and spirit. I stand against all confusion of the enemy today. I am dependant on your wisdom God. I welcome you to teach me. Amen”
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 ESV
2. As you read make note of what stands out to you
Rather than focussing on understanding great long texts at a time, read each day until a thought or verse stands out to you. Sometimes this might be after 20 verses, sometimes it might be after 3 verses.
Remember that the point of Bible reading is to be impacted by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit can work through many many verses or just a few. Trust God to teach you as you read His word. Do not gobble it up thinking this makes you a better pastor or person. Take your time and really chew each story and verse.
When a portion of a verse impresses itself upon you, make note of this. Either write in the margin of your Bible where you are reading, or in a journal write out the verse and what has impacted you about it. Both are best.
Writing small notes in your Bible will help you find those places again, and will help you to recall how God has used each part in your life. Writing longer responses (but they don’t have to be long) in a notebook will help you later as you glance back at what God has been teaching you.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
3. After 3 months look back over your notes and see what God has been speaking to you
It is an interesting thing to be noting day after day small thoughts and impressions as given by God, and then to look at all of these impressions at one glance. Very definite patterns emerge and themes of God’s instructions and movement in our life become apparent.
At this point take a bit of time to sit before the Lord and invite further direction and revelation, or to simply worship and thank the Lord for what He has been teaching you.
The Bible is the word of God, the voice of God, and in this we are invited to interact with it and through it to interact with God. Our study times simply become conversations with God. So we thank Him and give honour to Him for his voice penetrating our hearts and lives.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 ESV
4. Begin to identify how God’s teaching is making a difference in your heart and life
After a few months of daily reading even just a little bit of your Bible you will begin to notice a difference in your thinking and in your hearts response to life. While the changes will begin happening immediately we often cannot notice them right away; mostly because changes that last happen little bit by little bit.
God shifts our thinking in small ways. Our Lord leads us day by day. The Holy Spirit reveals things bit by bit.
Small changes building up over time make for the longest lasting transformations. Small is best when it comes to our walk with the Lord and our interaction with His word. Trust him to be teaching you and in turn take the time to glance back and see the difference in your life.
Remember, we do not study the Bible just to know the Bible. We study the Bible to be changed by the Living God.
Ask yourself: How am I different today than I was three (or six or twelve) months ago?
This becomes a vital part of your story and of the messages the Lord is giving you to share.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 ESV
5. Begin to share with others how God’s teaching is making a difference for you
When we begin to share with others about what God is doing in our life, we want to simply give our testimony. We simply declare how God has impacted us. For instance, instead of sharing all of the Bible verses about how we do not need to fear, it is just as powerful to simply give testimony, “Six months ago I was afraid of many things. But today, after reading His word and seeing how much God loves me and is taking care of me, I am no longer afraid. My courage is building.”
This simple sharing can be done among small gatherings of friends, when you are walking with your spouse or sitting with your family. It is the way for anyone new to this to begin passing on the messages God is giving you.
You do not need to have fancy words or big long sentences to share the Lord’s goodness in your life.
Rest in simple testimony. For the authority with which you speak is based on your personal encounter with the Living God.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 ESV
6. After a time of doing Steps 1-5 you will have plenty of material for a sermon
All that is left is to organize your thoughts.
•A. Know your main point (what do you want people to go away with?)
•B. 1st point
•C. 2nd point
•D. 3rd point
•E. Add in the verses that God used to teach you these things
•F. Include relevant stories to help tell your point
•G. Have a conclusion
Remember: Share how God is impacting you. What have you learned? How have you changed? What does God’s word say to this?
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 ESV
7. Close in prayer. Be authentic and simple
The power of prayer is found in our lives alongside the Lord. As we walk in obedience to God’s leading in our lives our prayers become stronger in their power and authority. Big words and long sentences do not make for stronger prayers.
The people you are teaching and leading need to know that they can pray as well. They need to know that prayer is not a big mystery but a simple conversation between us and God. Teach them this. Use your own prayers to model conversation with God.
Thank God for the lessons he is teaching us. Invite Him to give more lessons. Declare blessing over His people. And close with an Amen. It really can be as simple as this.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7 ESV
And finally, for those of you who are pastors or spiritual leaders in your communities, teach this simple method of study and sharing to others. Also, make room in your church services and as small groups of believers gather for others to share in this way.
We want to be learners of our Lord through each other. The Body of Christ is vital to our well-being and each one can bring a fresh word from our Lord. As leaders we must make room for this. For every one of your people who have a Bible (and for those who don’t join up with someone who does), take small bits of time on a regular basis to read and discuss and learn together.
While the Bible is a big book it is best taken in small bites, and after time those small bites add up to full meals and satisfied lives.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8 ESV
“God we come together today in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We confess that the Bible is a big book and many times we are swamped with anxiety about how to share it all. Today we choose to rest in you. Today we settle into your leading and guiding, your wisdom and insight.
We invite you to teach us. We open our hearts and minds to your direction. Lead us in all things. Most of all help us to make you and your word a priority in our lives. Help us to read even just a little bit of your word on a daily basis. For those of us who do not have Bibles, we ask that you would enable us to have them. For those of us who cannot read we ask that you team us up with those who can. May we simply study together.
All in all we thank you for your movement in our lives and that we are ever changing into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. We bless you Father God. Amen”
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
- Follow the instructions for a simple sermon and then give a sermon using this method
- Write out a 4-6 sentence paragraph telling about your experience of using this method
Summary – simple sermons
Read God’s word every day. Joshua 1:8, Proverbs 1:5
Ask God to grow your understanding. John 14:26
Allow scripture to purify you, to challenge you, and to change you. Hebrews 4:12
Share how Christ is making a difference in your inner person. 2 Corinthians 3:18