Extracts from notes by Danny Akin from Rick Warren’s conference presentation.
There are some real nuggets here.
6 things I know about every audience
1. Everybody wants to be loved.
2. Everybody wants their life to count (meaning, purpose, significance.)
3. No matter how wealthy or successful life is empty without Christ.
4. Many of these people are carrying a load of guilt.
5. Many are consumed with bitterness (from past offenses.)
6. There is a universal fear of death.
Why aren’t more sermons built around application?
1. We assume people will make the necessary connection.
2. We “leave it to the Holy Spirit.”
3. Personal application is convicting and makes people feel uncomfortable.
4. Because we haven’t applied it in our own lives.
5. Because it takes more time and effort in preparation.
6. We are afraid of being simplistic and practical.
7. Because we’ve never been taught how to do it.
8. We haven’t realized the importance of it.
The Danger of Teaching Information Without Application
1. Knowledge without application produces pride/arrogance. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” 1 Cor. 8:1 (NIV)
2. Knowledge without application brings judgment. “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17
How Much of a Sermon Should Be Application?
Some New Testament Examples:
- Paul: Romans: 50% Application (most doctrinal book in the Bible); Ephesians: 50% Application; Galatians: 100% Application [?]
- James: 100% Application [?]
- I Peter: 60% Application
- Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: 90% Application
Jesus always expected people to do something as a result of His preaching.
- “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:17 (NIV) Luke
- “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish
man who built his house on sand.” Matt. 7:26 (NIV)
- “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matt.
- Matt. 7:21, John 14:23-24
- “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 (NIV)
All the New Testament preachers emphasized conduct.
- John the Baptist (Matt. 3:8)
- James (James 1:22, 2:14)
- John (1 John 3:19-You only really believe the parts of the Bible you do/obey! – 1 John 2:17, 1 John 3:18, 1 John 2:3)
- Paul (Eph. 5:8)
What I’ve Learned About Preaching For Life-Change
1. All behavior is based on a belief – belief precedes behavior.
2. Behind every sin is a lie that I am believing. (Titus 3:3)
3. Change always starts in/with the mind. (Romans 12:2) Think…Feel…Act.
4. To help people change, we must change their beliefs first. (John 8:32)
5. Trying to change people’s behavior without changing their beliefs is a waste of time.
6. The Bible term for “changing your mind” is repentance. (This is a good word, though
culturally abused.) [?]
7. You don’t change people’s minds, the applied Word does. (1 Cor. 2:13b, 2 Sam. 23:2,
8. Changing the way I act is the result or fruit of repentance. (Matt. 3:8, Acts 26:20b)
9. The deepest kind of preaching is preaching for repentance. John the Baptist (Mt. 3:2), Jesus
(Mt. 4:17, Mk. 1:15), The 70 (Mk. 6:12), Peter (Acts 2:38), Paul (Acts 26:20b), John (Rev.
10. To produce lasting life-change you must enlighten the mind, engage the emotions, and
challenge the will.)
Every message comes down to 2 words: Will you?
How did Jesus choose what to speak about?
About 90% of Jesus’ preaching was a response to a question or a need from/of some
Think through the 5 levels of learning
- What knowledge of the Bible is needed? “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6
- What perspectives do our people need to develop? “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14 (NIV)
- What convictions do our people need to develop? “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.” Rom. 14:22a (NASB)
- What skills do our people need to develop? “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.” Eccl. 10:10 (NIV)
- What character qualities need to be formed in their lives? Eccl. 10:10
The Application Pyramid (adapted from Dave Veerman (Senior Editor of Life App. Bible)
“The THEN” POINT PRESENT “The NOW”
People: Who are the people in this passage and how are they like us?
Place: What is the setting and what are the similarities to our world?
Plot: What is happening? Is there any conflict or tension? How would I have acted or
felt in that situation?
Point: What was the intended message for that audience? What is the purpose of this
passage? Why is it in the Bible from God? What did God want them to learn, feel or
Principles: What are the timeless truths?
Present: How is this relevant to our world today?
Parallels: Where does this truth apply to my life and to the lives of my people (at home, work,
school, church, neighborhood?)
Personal: What needs to change in me and in them (a belief, value, attitude or action?)
Plan: What will be my first steps of action?
My Application Acrostic
12 Questions to ask about the text. Is there…
A An attitude to adjust?
P Promise to claim?
P Priority to change?
L Lesson to learn?
I Issue to resolve?
C Command to obey?
A Activity to avoid or stop?
T Truth to believe?
I Idol to tear down?
O Offense to forgive?
N New direction to take?
S Sin to confess?
How to put more applications into your message
1. Always aim for a specific action (a single purpose.). The most important question after you’ve studied the text: What specific response am I going to ask for? What do I want them to think? What do I want them to feel? What do I want them to do?
2. Model it from your own life. (1 Cor. 4:6). Be real and share your own success, failures and struggles. To be a model, you just need to be one step ahead.
3. Ask penetrating questions. Jesus modeled this: Matt. 17:25, 18:12, 21:28, 22:42, Luke 10:36, 13:2,4
4. Give specific action steps.
5. Give practical examples and life testimonies. (1 Cor. 10:11). Use life testimonies from people’s lives.
6. Offer people hope. (Rom. 15:4)
7. Make your applications your points in the sermon outline.
8. Put a verb in every point in the sermon outline!
9. Put “Jesus” or “God” in the point.
Example: 1 Cor. 10:13 – “Overcoming Temptation”
You can overcome temptation
1. Because it is common
2. Because it is limited
3. Because it is escapable
What to do when you’re tempted
1. Believe God has seen it before.
2. Believe God will limit its intensity.
3. Believe God will make a way out of it.
10. Personalize the points by using personal pronouns (“You,” “Me,” “I”)
ACADEMIC OUTLINE [!]
“The Corinthians and Spiritual Gifts” (1 Cor. 12)
Point #1 – The Source of the Corinthians Gifts.
Point #2 – The Function of the Corinthians Gifts.
Point #3 – The Purpose of the Corinthians Gifts.
What’s wrong with this outline?
It is abstract.
It is in the 3rd person.
It is not either about God or people.
A LIFE-CHANGING OUTLINE
“Using Your Gifts” (1 Cor. 12)
Point #1 – God Gave You Gifts.
Point #2 – God Gave You Gifts to Use.
Point #3 – God Gave You Gifts for the Benefit of the Body.
What’s right about this outline?
It is personal.
It is practical.
It is God-centered. *Be sure to be all three!
“A More Excellent Way” (1 Cor. 13)
by J.T. Crabtree (1983 Preacher’s Annual)
Point #1 – Its Ministry of Healing
Point #2 – Its Simplicity of Language
Point #3 – Its Competency for Problem Solving
Point #4 – Its Superiority of Value
What’s wrong with this outline?
It uses complex language.
It uses incomplete sentences.
It uses passive voice.
A LIFE-CHANGING OUTLINE
“How Your Love Can Change Others” (same points rephrased)
1. Your Love Heals!
2. Your Love Speaks!
3. Your Love Can Solve Problems!
4. Your Love Is of Great Value!
Quote from Warren Wiersbe
“The way I approach a sermon has changed. I used to concentrate on what the text says… how I could
make it mean something to somebody else. Now I ask, ‘What does God want these people to hear?’
My preaching was academic; now it’s more personal… Everybody I talk to carries some pain. Woe to
the church that doesn’t recognize people’s needs.”
11. Suggest a practical assignment. “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37
I. Present tense application statement.
Content of the text
II. Present tense application statement.
Content of the text
III. Present tense application statement.
Content of the text.
How to arrange your outline for maximum impact
1. Keep it simple.
Beware of alliterations!
It is more important to be clear than to be cute.
2. Get to the point quickly.
3. State your points in complete sentences.
4. Make sure your points have unity and balance (symmetry.)
5. Make sure your points follow a clear, logical progression.
6. Arrange your points to climax with a commitment.
Often put the strongest point last and put the 2nd strongest point first in the outline.
7. Arrange your points to use “tension and release.”
*You need a peak and valley emotionally approximately every 10 minutes in preaching
sermons. Give release through humor and illustrations.
8. Consider how your points sound when arranging them.
9. Provide an outline with the Bible verses written out.
Quote from Chuck Swindoll
“If you think the gathering of Biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in your hand will
automatically equip you to communicate well, you are deeply mistaken. It will not. You must
work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation, being dull is a grave offence, and
irrelevance is a disgrace to the Gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we
preachers are the criminals.”
1. Your Introduction – Tie your introduction to your message purpose.
- To connect with the audience (identify, establish rapport). *You must establish a relationship before you can get a response.
- To gain attention.
- To introduce the purpose of the message.
- To answer the question “Why should I listen to you?”
Brevity and variety are good elements.
2. Your Transitions – Tie your transitions to your purpose. Avoid the words “point” and
3. Your Conclusion: The Call For Commitment – Tie them to the purpose.
Mistakes to avoid
- Don’t just summarize the message.
- Don’t say “In conclusion” unless you mean it.
- Don’t blame the clock for needing to conclude.
- Don’t introduce anything new in the conclusion.
- Don’t add a 4th (another point) that should have been in the body.
What to do
- Always point back to Christ in some way.
- End with intensity and emotion.
- Have the courage to ask for a specific response – “Will you…?”
Ways to Conclude
- Restate the major points forcefully and personally.
- Use a compelling illustration.
- Use a piercing question and wait for a response.