During a ministry class I was taking last year we had a guest speaker, Dr. Paul Binion, who talked about preaching and teaching.
The two parts I find very helpful from Dr. Paul Binion’s talk are when he shared with us about preparing his outlines every quarter and the importance of teaching the “so what?” at the end of his messages. Even if you do not preach in a church, these two elements are very important to any leader who communicates on a regular basis.
Dr. Binion shared how he takes a week every quarter and travels out of town to outline what he wants to preach about every Sunday for the next quarter. This helps him schedule what he wants to share and when he wants to preach about it. In the Nelson Minister’s Manual there are 28 different days (pg 201-207) that help to orient a faith community together. These are 28 opportunities that a pastor can utilize when looking to teach a congregation. When a church body interacts with each other and lives as a community it is important that they share these significant faith events together. Just as a faith community shares a common belief in Jesus, these significant events relating to their faith help to draw them together and to build their faith. I am sure Dr. Binion’s practice of preparing his outlines every quarter allows him to think through many of the important events of the year and to adequately prepare for his sermons for them. Because his church denomination (the Church of God) does not give him specific passages of scripture to teach through the year he has the freedom to choose the passages and scriptures to teach through what he desires and feels is important to his congregation.
In addition to Dr. Binion’s preparation of his sermons, he also gave us some great insight about how to effectively close a sermon. I am intrigued by Dr. Binion’s statement towards the end of his talk to our class about the “so what?” in the sermon. From what Dr. Binion expressed to us, you can go through great exegetical work and hermeneutics, but towards the end of your sermon you need to come to the “so what?” point. The “so what?” point is where you show why what you have taught is important and relevant to their lives. As pastors we need to share with the people the “so what?” point by telling them that this topic, lesson, or principle is important because it can change their life, improve their family, help them share their faith with others, etc. I find Dr. Binion’s “so what?” concept very similar to a benediction the Nelson Minister’s Manual gives us to speak at the end of a message. That benediction eloquently states, “Now may the Lord use us this week to extend and strengthen His kingdom for Christ and His glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen” (pg 198). Isn’t that the goal with teaching and preaching, to equip people with what they need to strengthen the body of Christ and help them to share it with others?
Interacting with Dr. Binion’s talk and the Nelson Minister’s Manual has been very beneficial to me and provides great insight into what I need to do to be successful as a communicator. Going forward I will be sure to set aside time to outline my thoughts well before I need to teach them and I will think about the “so what?” point of my messages.