Author: Ron Graham
A Sermon’s Main Purpose
—Not just a subject, but also an object
Another necessary classification of sermons is aim. When preparing any lesson, choose your technique knowing exactly what you want your lesson to accomplish. The following classifications will help you. They are easy to remember —they all start with E. Before getting up a lesson make sure you’ve checked which of these is your primary objective. You may have more than one goal in mind, but be aware of your main purpose.
The aim of the lesson is Biblical interpretation. You wish to clarify the meaning of a difficult or misunderstood portion of scripture. You use the Bible as its own best interpreter, using other scripture to clarify the intent of the passage in question.
This may include ethical, social, or devotional teaching and any other that aims to encourage improvement in character, behaviour, and commitment to Christ. We want the audience to go away feeling the need to change for the better.
Here the aim is to improve the audience’s knowledge and comprehension of a particular matter. We want the people to go away feeling that they understand better some important aspect of their faith.
To feed and build up the body of Christ is a very worthy purpose for a lesson. The aim here is to encourage and strengthen people in their faith.
This classification is sometimes called apologetics. The aim here is to justify belief in something which the Bible itself simply states as fact —the existence of God, the inspiration of the scriptures, miracles, creation, resurrection, heaven and hell, the devil, etc.
Evangelical or gospel sermons attempt to persuade the non-Christian to believe in Christ and obey him. This aim is appropriate when there are people in the audience who have not yet believed and obeyed.
It is a legitimate aim that you want the audience to take pleasure in listening to the word. On occasions this can even be your primary purpose.