Michele and I just returned from attending the annual Evangelical Homiletics Society conference held on the beautiful facilities of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. I had the privilege of co-authoring and presenting a paper with my Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary teaching colleague, Dr. Jeffrey D. Arthurs. The paper was titled, The Rewards and Challenges of Teaching Robinson’s Big Idea Method.
Shameless promotion alert: our presentation won the Keith Willhite Award for best paper of the conference.
Here’s a summary of our work. I’m including this because I hope you will consider making the big idea method a part of your weekly sermon preparation. The summary might help move you in that direction if you aren’t already a disciple.
- Pre-exegesis. The method helps guide my study time at the beginning of every week. I don’t start with micro-exegesis (word studies), but with macro-exegesis or pre-exegesis (learning how meaning is being made through the relationship of ideas within the preaching portion).
- Discovering the interrelationship between ideas. The method excels at identifying how various sized ideas create meaning in a pericope. Not to mention, this is the time to locate dominant and subordinate thoughts in the passage.
- Preserves Authorial Intention. This method helps me learn what the writer of Scripture meant and keeps me from reading into or over what he has written. If you preach or teach the Bible then you use some method. I really like this one.
- Sermon Structure. While you are doing your pre-exegesis according to this fashion, you are beginning to see the author’s structure emerge. The process of finding the big idea leads to the identification of the main points or logical moves of the author and this leads to initial sermon form.
- Big Idea By-Products. If your analysis is correct within the first few hours of study, you have gained significant sermon by-products. You have your theme or big idea. That means you have direction for both your introduction and conclusions. You also have a sense of what the sermon is supposed to do to the listeners (sermonic purpose).
- Aids Listener Comprehension and Retention. As your sermon stays locked into the big idea, sermon unity and clarity will help listeners understand and remember the sermon.
That’s the rewards you can expect if you try the method. If you’re not sure how to put this method into practice, please read or reread my book, Preaching With Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical Preaching (Kregel, 2014).
Preach well so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).
P.S. Next time I’ll list some of the challenges that go along with the method.