Reaching the Head and the Feet

“Preachers make a fundamental mistake when they assume by providing parishioners with biblical information they will automatically make the connection between scriptural truth in there every day lives” Brian Chappell

This morning during our service at a local prison, one of the inmates read from a psalm, and challenged his fellow prisoners to “not throw gasoline on situations.” I couldn’t help but smile because he was referring to my devotional the week before based on Proverbs 15:1 on using our words as water instead of gasoline.

While this is a testimony to the power of Scripture, I believe in a deeper sense it speaks to the power of connecting Scriptural truth to everyday life.

The preparation of a Sermon (or in that case devotional) is hard work

  1. You must first dig into the text itself to find out exactly what God was saying to them.
  2. You must then find the Universal Principle from Scripture in that text that can be applied to us today
  3. That principle must be illustrated for clarity
  4. And finally it must be applied to daily life (answering the so what? question)

Sadly many messages (mine included) stop at step three of illustration, and don’t give a specific application for that truth in daily life.

In other words you reach the head (they understand Biblical knowledge) but you don’t reach the feet (show why this is important, and what they should do because of it).

I am very grateful for Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chappell (currently reading for a second time) and other books on preaching that challenge me to aim for life-change that impacts the feet instead of just information transfer.

Of course strong applications can help people remember what you said like this morning (people always remember stories) but more importantly, it explains knowing the Gospel isn’t enough.

The Truth of God must impact your life

Applied to an unsaved person obviously this would mean being able to quote the “romans road” does no good if you haven’t yet placed your faith in Christ. At the same time though this can apply to the Christian who is saved, but isn’t growing spiritually.

In the end application isn’t about making people uncomfortable (though it sometimes does) but instead proving over and over again the Bible does speak to the struggles of life. And there is a responsibility to do more than just agree.

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