Choosing a Passage.

When it comes to choosing a passage to preach you may have no choice: perhaps it’s given to you from the outset. But inasmuch as you have a choice, the key is to keep it simple.

You may be tempted to select a part of scripture that is controversial or is particularly meaningful to you. However, if your aim is to preach an expository sermon, both options will likely hinder rather than help. Controversial passages are usually controversial for a reason: perhaps they are difficult to understand or clash with current cultural values in an obvious way. Either way, concentrating on letting the passage speak for itself with the distraction of the controversy in the background can be very challenging to navigate, even for seasoned preachers.

Again, preaching passages that you find particularly meaningful or encouraging can hinder the discipline of drawing the meaning out of the text. This is because we tend to read the passage through the lens of our past experiences: if verse 10 was a word in season at a low point in my life, I will lean towards thinking that is the key verse. But it may not be.

When learning to preach, the first discipline to adopt is to let God’s word set the agenda, not what we think the church needs to hear or a word of encouragement that only tangentially flows from the text. Therefore it is helpful for Rookie preachers to choose relatively straight forward passages and simply learn to listen to God’s word. And once we have listened, to faithfully pass it on.

Key Points.

1) The first discipline to learn is to allow God’s word to speak for itself.
2) Choosing a straight-forward passage helps you learn to listen well.

Next Steps.

1) Read this article with your minister or ministry trainer and ask then for help choosing a passage.
2) If you need to choose your own passage, here are some suggestions:

  • Mark 2:1-12.

  • Mark 4:1-20.

  • Mark 4:35-41.

  • Mark 8:31-38.

  • John 3:16-21.

  • Romans 5:1-11

  • Colossians 1:15-23.

  • Colossians 3:1-11.