April 11 2022
What’s in a Sermon? Part 4 Overview
So, we looked at the “Context” portion of the sermon a few days ago, and now we’re moving ahead to the “Overview.” (By the way, there’s a plan that this all fits under, you will see it in the summary in a later post!)
Overview is where the sermon works to answer the question: What is going on in the specific passage of Scripture? It is, essentially, where the preacher needs to summarize the passage, and may be the right place to read the passage. Or to read it again. Generally, this is a good place to read through the whole passage even if you’re going to go back and read each verse as you highlight it later.
Oh, and have you noticed that so far we have not talked about creating the central point of the sermon? That’s right. Because you will create that—it comes from the passage itself—but you do not need it as you construct the Context or the Overview. You will use that central point when you edit the Context and Overview down to size for the time available.
This section, Overview, gives the summary of what is happening. At times, this is a longer section than the Context but it can also be shorter. You may need to use this segment to explain what is happening around a speech—like the Sermon on the Mount—but you’re mainly looking at the overall passage.
You would take the Beatitudes and summarize the general idea of that segment of Jesus’ teaching, how it was contrary to the prevailing wisdom of the day, how each one interconnects with the others.
In Context, you want to leave the hearer with an idea of how this passage fits with the Big Picture of God’s Story. In Overview, you want to leave the hearer with an idea of how this passage works.
Overview is also one of your primary defenses against bad application later. In Overview, you would note what Paul is writing about, overall, in Philippians 4 when he goes on to say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” (Phil. 4:13). Without being clear in the overview of the passage—Paul thanking the Philippians for supporting his work even when things went poorly—you might focus on that verse as if it empowers you to do whatever you want.
(Hint: it doesn’t.)
The Overview section of your sermon is a key part to helping people see Scripture as more than just disconnected sentences. It, along with Context, also aids hearers in putting the text together on their own, equipping them to read the Bible well. After all, one of the best things a preacher can have is hearers who know the Word well. Keeps you working hard and working humble.