Too often, writes Daniel Akin, preachers focus on what they preach at the expense of why (or to what purpose) they are preaching it.
Here is a (non-exhaustive) list:
- Evangelistic Purpose
The objective is to clearly communicate the gospel to those who do not know or have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior (ex. Peter’s Pentecostal sermon in Acts 2).
- Exhortative Purpose
The need for believers to grow in their devotion and love for the Lord is the focus.
- Doctrinal/Theological Purpose
Here the goal is growth in the knowledge of God and His truth (This is a much neglected aspect of preaching in our day and one that needs to be recovered.)
- Ethical Purpose
This type of sermon focuses on the need of the audience to grow in various relationships (personal and social primarily).
- Consecrative Purpose
Here the focus is on the need of the audience to grow in its commitment and service to God.
- Supportive (Encouragement) Purpose
This purpose focuses on the need of the audience for support and strength.
How shall the preacher determine which of these purposes should apply in a particular message?
- Determine the purpose of the biblical text.
You should honor the biblical writer’s purpose.
- Determine the audience to whom you will preach the sermon.
You must know your audience. What is going on with your people? The same sermon preached in your pulpit could have a different purpose when preached in a revival or biblical conference.
- Decide which of the six purposes is appropriate for your message on this particular occasion.
This will influence the “thrust” of your message.
- State the purpose statement in clear, concise, and concrete language.