Pointed Preaching

by John Meador

John MeadorPeople need pointed preaching. Now, I'm not just talking about preaching that is blunt and to the point, although if the text is blunt, so should the preaching be. What I mean by pointed preaching is preaching that clearly and memorably conveys the point(s) of the text.

There is an old maxim that says, "People remember the stories." Well, in fact, they do! But the preacher's responsibility is far greater than to leave the congregation with stories that have no memorable point. The communicator of God's Word must by necessity work hard in seeing and sharing the points clearly enough so that the hearer can connect the words of the text with the points of the message. The stories simply illustrate the point. The point must first be made!

Narrative passages often lend themselves to messages that are less structured, but what you'll find in the end is that people will eventually remember one or two of the highlights of such a message-even when they weren't given. They are needed!

Points are anchors that people can hold onto. They are reminders of how the text spoke to them through the preacher. Points are the steps of the ladder that the hearer climbs in order reach the overall impact of the text. They are summaries of what God has said to the one who delivers the Word-and what he communicates when the time comes.

Points can be plain or they can be complex. They can be old or they can be new. They may be either traditional or contemporary in wording. There are two priorities when it comes to the points of the message: First, the points must accurately reflect the original meaning and intent of the author in that particular text. Other articles have explored how that is discovered. Second, the points must connect with the particular congregation you are communicating with.

Recently I preached the text of Deuteronomy 8:1-6 to a group of students preparing for the ministry. As I studied the text in preparation and as I realized the background of this part of the book is the groundwork of the children of Israel for entering the land. I began to see the overall point of the text. Moses was calling the next generation to "remember all the way"
(v. 2a) that God had led them. He was reminding them of the "Wilderness Lessons" taught in forty years of wandering.

This was Moses' last message, and he wanted the lessons to be known thoroughly, so that the new generation could finally conquer the land. His statements are packed with key words and powerful admonitions. I took my points right out of the text, and nearly all the words of the first six verses relate directly to these points:

1. The wilderness is about your heart.

"that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart" (v. 2).

2. The wilderness is about your humility.

"that He might humble youHe humbled you" (vv. 2,3).

3. The wilderness is about your hunger.

"He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know" (v. 3).

By taking the actual words of the passage to be part of my main points, I am keeping the points clearly attached to the Scripture. It sheds light on Moses' original message, it reveals what the Holy Spirit has recorded for us in this age, and it keeps the message anchored on truth. These points served as "boundaries" for my time of preaching that day. They kept me in the context and within the key points of the text.

But here's what really gets me going. When the hearer is listening to me preach, he/she is able to make the connection between verse and message. Points help provide the "a-ha!" moment in the mind that is listening and encourages the hearer to say, "I can see what God means here." It opens wide the door to an encounter with the God of Truth! When people begin to see what God's Word says for themselves, it fuels an enthusiasm for God's Word. They open the Bible at home and read for themselves. They gain confidence in how to hear from God. They learn how to let the key points of a text emerge in their reading. They grow.

And that's the point.

John Meador is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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