Five Instant Sermon Applications
A sermon should be a balance between teaching and application. Your giftedness as a preacher often will lean toward one or the other. Also, over time, a pastor’s emphasis in his teaching will also shift. Many pastors begin their careers teaching Scripture with little application, only to move more toward emphasizing application in their later years. Both what the Word says (teaching) and what that means for us in daily life (application) help make a sermon memorable and effective. If, however, you’re sometimes stuck for application, consider these five simple ways to bring the message into daily life for the congregation.
Do. What are the actions the congregation can take in response to the Word? Avoid “don’t” lists, and instead focus on the more positive “do” ideas. How can members be obedient to God’s Word as a result of the teaching? Keep “do” ideas short and avoid long lists. In fact, try to concentrate on one “do” item if you do this direction, so as to avoid overemphasizing “work for God” versus “relationship with God”.
Go. Involvement in God’s mission and sharing the Gospel is always a proper response to the Word. Drill it down for your particular message. How can members share the Gospel or serve others as they apply the Word? This could be local or global. Sharing the gospel should be a frequent application that permeates much of the church’s teaching.
Surrender. Through His Word God often calls us to give up or surrender an area of life to Him as a result of what we have heard. The Christian life in some respect is a “series of surrenders” as each new avenue of Scripture God opens up to us as we study draws us closer to Him. What might members step away from as a result of the teaching? Here again be careful to keep the emphasis away from “don’ts” and instead on word surrender. As we become more like Christ we will naturally gravitate away from the things and temptations of the world in the process.
Pray. Sometimes thought and prayer is the best application for a message. Encourage members to spend time with God and seek His desire for them personally in applying the Word. “This week in your prayer time, be sensitive to God’s leading in how to make this teaching a reality in your life.” Often obedience to teaching is a multi-step process that begins with people talking it out with God on a more personal and intimate level.
Give. Stewardship as a result of the sermon is so much broader than the offering plate. Think about how people can give not only of their pocketbooks, but of their time, talents and abilities. What about the coats on their backs or the shoes on their feet? I’ve seen several messages on serving the poor where the pastor called on the congregation to literally give the coats of their backs, right then, in the moment, to help the poor. The early church gathered and gave (Acts 2:42-27). How could your people steward as a result of the teaching?
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.