Finding the Take Home Truth

We need to think strategically about how we preach in a way that makes a difference in the lives of those who listen.

An effective sermon has ________   _______________ – one key idea or theme that it drives home. The sermon needs one central idea upon which the rest of the sermon is built.

Make sure the sermon has one key idea or theme in the sermon.

Big Idea, thesis statement, the central idea, the proposition, etc..

The Take Home Truth –  if you are going to remember just one ___________ from this sermon, what idea do I hope you’ll carry home with you?

John Henry Jowett said,  “I have a conviction that no sermon is ready for preaching . . . until we can express its theme in a short sentence as clear as a crystal. . . . I do not think any sermon ought to be preached or even written, until that sentence has emerged, clear and lucid as a cloudless moon.”

“Sermons seldom fail because they have too many ideas; more often they fail because they deal with too many ______________________ ideas.” (Haddon Robinson)

We are communicating with people via the ___________ and not the _________.

The value of a single proposition in an oral address.

Duane Litfin: the human mind craves unity, order and progress.  

Keith Wilhite: “The mind of the listener searches for overall unity. . . . Your mind reaches for a unity, some wholeness out of the parts. Likewise, we find it difficult to tolerate chaos or disunity. Our propensity toward unity makes trying to have more than one point like having no point at all.”

Bryan Chapell: “This major idea, or theme, glues the message together and makes its features stick in the listener’s mind. All the features of the entire sermon should support the concept that unifies the whole.”

We should construct a message so that all its features support a main idea.

Haddon Robinson points out in his book Biblical Preaching, “When reduced to its basic structure, an idea consists of only two essential elements: a ______________ and a ___________________.

Subject = ____________  am I talking about?

Complement = What am I ________________ about what I am talking about?

          Praise the Lord, all nations!
         Extol him, all you people!
         For his love is strong,
          His faithfulness eternal.

Psalm 117

What’s the subject of this passage?

What is he saying about that subject?

Once the Take Home Truth is in place, the preacher can clarify the _______________  of the sermon.

God wants to give each of us a Kingdom vision.

How does God help you find your Kingdom vision?

  1. God helps us recognize a need (Neh. 1:1-4)
  2. God places a burden on our hearts as we spend time with Him (1:4)
  3. God encourages within us a hunger for His glory (vv. 5, 10)

In developing the Take Home Truth, it is important that we first arrive at an accurate understanding of what the text is all about.

Robinson: “Every Sunday ministers claiming a high regard for the Scriptures preach on texts whose ideas they either do not understand or have not bothered to study.”

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst.”

Matthew 18:19-20:

“A text without a context becomes a pretext.”

Careful _______________ makes a difference.

We will want to study the literary genre and background, as well as the specific context of the passage we are preparing to preach.

The Take Home Truth should be:

  1. _______________.   If possible, 12 words or less.
  2. ___________________.  Active, not passive.
  3. _________________.  Make the meaning of the passage plain.
  4. _________________.  Craft it in an engaging, memorable way.

In fashioning the Take Home Truth, you will need to focus on three steps:

  1. Consider what the text meant in its original _______________.
    • What would it have meant to you then?
  2. What does the text mean in ______________ context?
    • How do you translate the then into the now?
  3. Identify the timeless truth or principle that connects _________ and _________.

The Take Home Truth . . .

  1. It must be __________________ to the text.
  2. It must be true to the author’s __________________.
  3. It must be _____________________ to the lives of people.
  4. It should be stated in _______________ or _____________  tense, not past tense.

Here are a few examples of some Take Home Truths:

  • 1 Kings 17: God stands behind his Word.
  • Matthew 16:24-26: In this life only the losers win.
  • James 2: Faith has no favorites.
  • 1 John 1:5-7: God doesn’t hide in the dark.
  • Rev. 1:17-18: Everybody lives forever somewhere

Outlining the sermon

That outline gives structure which will help the sermon have unity, order and progress.

The outline helps you keep the sermon _________________, to make sure the various parts of the sermon stay in relationship to one another.

An outline typically includes: _____________________, a body, and a ______________________.

Sermon: The Purpose of Power

Acts 1:1-11

God’s power always comes with a purpose.

The major points are:

God gives power to display His majesty

God gives power to build His church

God gives power to share His gospel

Qualities found in a good sermon outline:

_______________. Every point of the outline should be controlled by the main idea (or Take Home Truth).

________________. The sermon outline helps us keep the sermon balanced by giving each point the proper development.

________________.  One point builds on another, moving us forward, until we reach the climax of our sermon.

Guidelines for developing an expository sermon outline:

~ The _______________ must directly relate to the Take Home Truth

~ Each major point should have the same ____________________ to the Take Home Truth as the other major points

~ Each major point should be an ______________, so it is stated in the form of a declarative sentence, with a subject and a verb.

~ The major point is not a __________________; it is an _______________.

~ Major points should be short, simple ____________________

~ _______________________ is fine if it comes naturally

~ State your major points in ______________________ language, using present or future tense.

~ Your major points serve to ______________, _____________ or ____________ the Take Home Truth.

Every sermon needs an outline or structure of some kind

Application-centered outline. Every major point of his sermons is a statement of some application of a biblical truth.

Introduction – Engages attention and presents biblical Take Home Truth

Major point #1 – First application of idea

Major point #2 – Second application of idea

Major point #3 – Third application of idea

The Take Home Truth is stated in terms of a _________  ________________ – something that links the biblical truth to the lives of the listeners, then the major points of the sermon are stated in the form of application – things you should “do” because of what God has revealed in this passage.

How do we determine those major points?

By posing a ___________________ to the Take Home Truth; the answers to that question, as found in the biblical text, form the major points of the outline.

How do you know what question to ask? You study the text, then you ask the question that the text answers

Find the answers in the biblical text, then formulate a question that will enable you to reveal those answers through the major points of your sermon.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11.

Take Home Truth: Ultimate joy emerges out of a life of service for Christ’s sake.

Transition question: “What is Christian servanthood like?”

The major points were:

1. A servant undergoes suffering for others

2. A servant provides comfort to others

3. A servant brings hope to others

In building this model of sermon we:

  • Identify the key idea or truth that speaks to a life issue; that becomes our Take Home Truth.
  • Pose a question to the text; the particular question will be determined by what the text is about.
  • The answers to the question become the points of the outline, stated in the form of application of the text.

Your outline is a ______________, not a destination.

The Take Home Truth of the sermon is the point of the message; once you have that in mind, you have the foundation on which the rest of the sermon is constructed.

Dr. Michael Duduit

Executive Editor, Preaching magazine
Dean, Clamp Divinity School
Anderson University, Anderson, SC