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E. Lutzer – Decisions, choice, change, and growth

Some ideas on pastoring and preaching by Erwin Lutzer

Being a Christian is all about making decisions, making choices, changing, and growth.

In fact, life is all about making decisions, making choices, changing, and growth or decay.

So, more accurately being a Christian is all about making helpful decisions, making healthy choices, changing for the better, and growth in Christ.

I like what Pastor Irwin Lutzer (pastor of The Moody Church for 36 years from 1980-2016) said in his Running to Win message on 7-11-17, titled “A Faith that Risks” – part 1.  “When preparing a sermon he asks himself: Why should anyone listening be changed for the rest of their life?  After all, that is what the Word of God is to do.” later…”We need to nail down the life-changing lessons that this passage of scripture teaches us.”

Principles for pastoral success

“From him I learned how to speak to human need, and how every sermon should have one big idea! Years later, when I was here in Chicago, Lloyd Perry, of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, explained how my outlines could have unity, order and progress if I employed a key word (a plural noun) under which all of my points would be subsumed.”

Lloyd Perry says you should have a central proposition (one statement) which is your main point. In the statement there should be one key word (and the key word should be a plural noun).

His emphasis appeared to be a challenge for His followers to maintain their influence in the world. Thus my theme became “The Need for Maintaining Christian Influence in the World.” My proposition was “For the reasons implied in Jesus’ great golden text, ‘You are the salt of the earth,’ we must maintain our Christian influence in the world.” In choosing that as my proposition, I was following Hershael York and Bert Decker, who suggest that the preacher should “build application right into the proposition.”[2]

As to designing a proposition, Perry writes, “The third step in the construction of a sermon is the formulation of a proposition. . . . This part of the sermon has been referred to by different homiletical writers as the central idea, the controlling assertion, the statement, the big truth, the subject sentence, and the thesis.”[3] In short, the proposition contains the entire sermon in the form of a single sentence. It also contains a key word. That word is always a noun and always plural. Donald Hamilton declares, “This keyword will always be a plural noun, for it is used to identify two or more ideas, or main points. There can be no exceptions to this.”[4] It is the key word because it establishes the focus of each main point. In the proposition for this sermon, the key word is obviously reasons.