Topical Preaching

Page 1 of 1 (5 items)
This post has 4 Replies | 1 Follower

Posts 17
Bruce Downes | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jan 27 2012 7:48 PM

Is there a Tutorial, a past thread or does anyone have any advice on how to prepare a sermon on a topic? For example I want to preach on "The Speech or Language of a Christian."

How would someone do this.



Posts 18876
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 27 2012 8:20 PM

I would start by building up a Passage List of Scripture texts that deal with your subject. Read up in the wiki on Passage Lists, and see Mark Barnes's tutorial video on Passage Lists.

To find relevant verses to add to your passage list, search for speech, language, talk in a collection of all the Topical resources you might have in your library, such as these:

If you don't yet know how to make a collection of such resources, see and Mark Barnes's video Creating Collections.

Some of these resources are just indexes of Scripture references, but some of them also have helpful little articles about the topic that could help you in your sermon prep, for example, here's the one from What Does the Bible Say About on "Talk":



Talk Is Cheap!

Some people have a comment to make on virtually every subject. They never say, “I don’t know,” or just listen in order to learn something. They just spout off their uninformed opinions to any willing listener. Proverbs calls such persons fools (Prov. 18:2).

Talk is cheap partly because it is easily available. The Book of Proverbs offers some principles to help us evaluate the worth of our words:

    •      Sometimes the wisest course is to keep quiet. We need to weigh our thoughts and words carefully if we intend to be helpful (Prov. 11:12; 17:27–28).

    •      The one thing we never want to talk about is a confidence with which we have been entrusted (Prov. 11:13).

    •      If we know how to use words, we can accomplish noble ends—for example, defusing a heated situation (Prov. 15:1–2).

    •      We need to watch what we say. Our mouths can get us in deep trouble (Prov. 18:6–7).

    •      If we give our opinion on a matter before hearing the facts, we will tend to bring shame on ourselves (Prov. 18:13).

    •      Talk is cheap, but easy talk can be expensive. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can lead to unfortunate consequences (18:21).

For which are you known—lots of talk and self-important opinions, or the ability to listen and words of wisdom? To find out, you may want to ask others for an honest opinion. Another way is to ask, “When was the last time someone came to me and asked for counsel?” It may seem risky and even painful to learn the truth about yourself in this area, but you will be much better off if you know your errors and can change them (Prov. 12:1; 15:32).

The Dangerous Tongue

Has your tongue ever gotten you in trouble? Perhaps you have said something that you wish you had not. Or perhaps you have been on the receiving end of a biting or thoughtless comments, and have felt wounded or slandered. If so, you probably can appreciate the great damage that can come from from an uncontrolled tongue (Prov. 10:18–21). Hatred, slander, and wickedness thrive because of words we speak.

Jesus’ brother James recognized this destructive pattern in the early church. He realized how easy it can be to blurt out comments without weighing the value of what is said, and he warned first-century Christians about lack of restraint when it comes to the tongue:

    •      He urged them to be quick to listen but slow to speak (James 1:19).

    •      He cautioned them not to think themselves religious if they could not control what they said (James 1:26).

    •      He told them not to claim to have faith unless their deeds matched their words (James 2:14–24).

    •      He wanted them to understand that the tongue boasts great things despite its tiny size (James 3:5).

    •      He warned them that the tongue is “a fire, a world of iniquity” (James 3:6), “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8), and a fountain of grumbling (James 5:9).

    •      He pointed out that speech can be an unpredictable source of either blessing or cursing, like a spring that gives either fresh water or bitter, or a fig tree that bears olives, or a grapevine that bears figs (James 3:10–12).

    •      He noted that some were using speech as a means of maligning one another (James 4:11).

    •      He challenged believers about making promises and oaths that were inconsistent (James 5:12).

As we reflect on the teachings of Proverbs and James concerning the tongue, it becomes evident that we need to pay attention both to what we say and to how we say it. We may need to make changes in our patterns of speech in order to avoid the outcomes of the foolish (Prov. 10:21).

The Impact of Words

People tend to be known by what they say. Words may strike fear in others, they may reveal the speakers to be foolish, or they may be a source of help or comfort to other people.

In a passage that probably pertains to the coming Messiah, Isaiah said the Lord’s Anointed would “know how to speak” by receiving instruction from God (Is. 50:4). As a result of this divine tutelage, He would be able to speak appropriately to the weary.

How much more do the rest of us need help in knowing what to say, given our sinful condition. Scripture repeatedly warns us about the power and danger of our words. As Scripture frequently shows, they can:

    •      cut like a sword (Ps. 57:4; 64:3);

    •      be as dangerous and poisonous as a snake (Ps. 140:3);

    •      convey lies with the impact of a bow (Jer. 9:3);

    •      strike down other people like an arrow (Jer. 9:8); and

    •      curse and demean others (Hos. 7:16).

What is the impact of your words on other people? Does what you say build others up or tear them down?

For more on this topic, see PROMISES, “Making Promises to God,” page 321.

Thomas Nelson Publishers, What Does the Bible Say About... The Ultimate A to Z Resource Fully Illustrated, Nelson's A to Z series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001), 392-94.



Then, of course, spend time studying the Scripture passages you've discovered.

Both Mark Barnes and Joe Miller have prepared multi-part videos on preparing a sermon using Logos, which you might find helpful:

Posts 18876
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 27 2012 9:06 PM

Here are a couple of other suggested resources:

Preaching the Topical Sermon by Ronald J. Allen (not available in Logos, but chunks of it available in preview on Google Books or Amazon, and if you've got the time, it's available used for as little as $1.92).

And there's a quickie tutorial on eHow called "How to Write a Topical Sermon." Not very in-depth, but it gives some good pointers.

Posts 9138
Forum MVP
Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 27 2012 9:11 PM


I've preached lots of topical sermons so here is an approach I would take:

1. Once you feel the Lord had led you to a topic to preach on, assemble as many scriptures as you can that deal with the topic. Doing this may force you to limit or expand the topic. Rosie has shown you how you can do this.

2. Create a Passage Guide and print it out.

3. Now find a quiet spot, get a pencil, and start reading over the scriptures and as you do, try to discern what each scripture contributes to the topic and pencil that in in the margin. For example, a scripture might talk about the motive behind our speech, might give positive instructions about how to speak, might give warnings about the wrong kind of speech, or might identify the goals of Christian speech. Doing this part takes some time and reflection.

4. Now you are ready to begin to create an outline of what the Bible teaches about your subject. You use the margin notes you've made and start creating broad outline points that may contain more than one of the features you discovered and noted in the step above. For example, you may see that you have a number of points all relating to the idea of "what to say and what not to say". I'd include those under a single outline point and have at least two sub-points, "what to say" and "what not to say."

5. Look through all you have learned and decide what part of it you'll have time to share and feel led to share. Then work hard at creating an outline that helps teach what the scriptures teach in this area.

6. Write a one sentence statement about your topic that summarizes what the Bible says about it. If you have trouble writing one sentence as a summary, you probably have too broad a study to preach from and need to start paring.

7. Write out the application of the message you are forming. What should people know, feel, and do as a result of what the Bible says? How should they act, think, pray, worship, get along, serve, or share their faith differently by taking these scriptures seriously?

8. Now create a title and work on making the outline interesting and memorable.

9. Write out an introduction that arouses interest in the topic and gives a brief idea of what you are about to say and the benefit of listening.

10. Write a conclusion that summarizes and then applies the scripture.

11. Work on the body of the sermon to explain, illustrate, and show the relevance of the scriptures you've selected to preach on.

12. Do a bunch of praying throughout the process and be sure you are not using the topical approach to say what you want to stay instead of saying what God's Word says.

13. Remember: you can't tell them everything in 30-40 minutes.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 894
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 28 2012 11:18 AM

Mark Smith:
12. Do a bunch of praying throughout the process and be sure you are not using the topical approach to say what you want to stay instead of saying what God's Word says.

I like what Mark has to say throughout his 13 steps, but I quote step 12 because that is my natural inclination (confession really is good for the soul).  Exegetical teaching/preaching curbs my innate desire to ensure that MY opinion is broadcast (even in the few instances when my opinion is actually "right")... our calling is to sow the Gospel.  I avoid topical preaching to keep the "me" out of it as much as possible.


"I read dead people..."

Page 1 of 1 (5 items) | RSS