7 Foundations of Effective Sermons


Here is an outline of essential elements for good preaching from my perspective. Much more could be said about each of these elements. This is only a summary.

1. INTERPRETATION – What is the meaning of the text? Determining textual meaning is the essential first step.

2. TRANSLATION – The job of the preacher is to transfer the meaning of the text to the audience in terms and contexts they understand. This is a kind of “translation,” reproducing textual meaning via the sermon.  

3. ORGANIZATION – In order to accomplish #2, every sermon should be structured for maximum effect. Thus, a sermon should contain the following 7 elements:

Exposition       –          Explaining the meaning of the text.

Illustration       –          Elucidating the meaning of the text.

Application     –          Applying the warranted meaning of the text.

Imagination     –          Helping people penetrate reality.

Argumentation –         Proving the point of the text via its logical trajectory.

Motivation      –          Moving the will to obey – (via rhetoric, passion, exhortation, etc.)

Exhortation     –          Telling them what to believe and practice; to do and not to do.

4. COMMUNICATION – Connecting with people via content and style. 

5. PASSION – Passion for Christ, the Word, and people expressed in delivery.

6. PERSUASION – Preaching to convince people to think & act biblically. Behavior is based on belief. Change how people think and you will change how they behave. James 1:22.

7. TRANSFORMATION – Information is not transformation. Life transformation is the goal of preaching – salvation of the lost; edification of the saved.

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One thought on “7 Foundations of Effective Sermons

  1. Dr. Allen. Your analysis of the 7 foundations of effective sermons is superb. I wish I had read something like that years ago. Young preachers coming along should find this extremely helpful to them in their sermon preparation and delivery. Wise indeed is the young preacher who heads toward SWBTS to receive the kind of training you and your entire homiletics faculty will provide them. Jerry Vines

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