Over the weekend I finished “Christ-Centered Preaching” by Bryan Chapell. It is an excellent resource on the development, and delivery of sermons that I’d encourage every preacher or missionary to read.
I learned many things from this book….but one of the most important is understanding the difference between what Chapell calls a “be sermon” and “redemptive sermon.”
He explains the difference like this
- A “be sermon” encourages someone to do something (be confident, be wise)
- A “Redemptive Sermon” encourages someone to rely on Christ and the Gospel
As I thought about this, it occurred to me that many of the sermons I preach emphasize human works instead of giving God first place. By doing this I inadvertently convey that the Christian life is lived in your own strength!
It’s hard to honor the Lord when hearing a works-based message that says “just try harder!”
Of course I don’t WANT to preach a “be sermon” on Sundays, the problem is it’s hard to know what a “Redemptive sermon actually looks like!
With that in mind, allow me to share some characteristics of a Redemptive sermon (taken from Bryan Chapell’s book)
- The foundation of the message is a sinful problem we cannot fix (he calls is a fallen focus): I used not wanting to go to church last Sunday morning. As a child when I didn’t want to go to church hearing “God wants us to go” was enough, but as an adult you need something more than that.
- This sinful problem is cured by a Universal Truth from Scripture: Last weeks was God loves the church, and has chosen to use it
- The main points of a Redemptive Sermon clarify the truth instead of giving the people something to do: God Loves the Mission of the church (it refocuses us on Him), and God loves the message of the church (it reminds us of Him).
- The closing a Redemptive Sermon is a challenge to respond to this Universal Truth in faith: The church service reconnects us to our true source of power Jesus Christ by refocusing us on Him, and reminding us of Him.
The sermon could have been better, but you get the idea.
What “Christ-Centered Preaching” helped me understand is people on Sunday don’t need a list of things to accomplish.
They need someone to focus their attention back on the cross.