While reading The Witness of Preaching, by Thomas Long, this morning, I came across an idea I have never seen before. He describes how every sermon should have both a focus and a function.
The focus is what is often called the thesis statement, or the big idea. It is a single sentence that sums up the controlling idea of the sermon. This is a pretty common idea in most preaching books and I’ve run across it many times.
The function was a new idea to me. He describes it as “what the preacher hopes the sermon will create or cause to happen for the hearers.” Further on, he says, “The function statement names the hoped-for change.” What a great added perspective to bring to preparation when teaching or preaching.
It has been interesting to me that on the ebay atheist blog (any pastor should be reading this, btw), one of Hemant’s critiques is that many of the sermons he has heard seem to just dig in to the Bible without actually trying to apply it and make sense of it for him. Most pastors would agree what the goal is to transform lives…not just to make a point. With that in mind, why wouldn’t one spend time trying to define the function of a teaching they do in any environment?