How Many Points Should A Sermon Have?

How to Preach Real, Relevant, Relational and Revolutionary Sermons

Chapter 2

How many points should a sermon have?

The short answer? At least one.
In the olden days the standard was three. The three point sermon. I don’t know why. It was before my time. I think it was based on the same formula that Mrs. Patuzak told us was the way to write a term paper in high school. In the introduction, establish the thesis. In the body develop three points that support the thesis. In the conclusion reintegrate the three points and there direct proof of your thesis.

With a sermon, the same structure would be used with the addition of another old saw. A joke, a quote, an illustration and a prayer. The prayer serves as an additional conclusion, in which the preacher again summarizes the main points and the thesis under the guise of an address to God.
The problem with the formula is that it is a formula. The problem with a formula is familiarity. Familiar is good if the desired effect is to make the people feel comfortable. Making the people feel comfortable is not a sermon. A sermon can comfort people, but should never make them feel comfortable. This is an important difference.

There are places where people should feel comfortable, maybe even during a worship service but during the sermon is not one of them.

A sermon should not have four points that all begin with the same letter. No matter how many points there are, they should never all begin with the same letter. The points should never begin with words whose first letters spell a word. This is just wrong in so many ways.

A sermon should have at least one point. It may not be limited to one point but should include one point. And that point should be pointed in the right direction. A sermon must always point to Jesus. The point has less to do with the words but with the direction. A sermon never points to the preacher or the people or the other people or the culture—a sermon points to Jesus or it is not a sermon. It is another thing. And the other thing is not helpful for people to hear God’s ever giving grace.

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7 Responses to How Many Points Should A Sermon Have?

  1. I’m surprised Rev Lamblove doesn’t know the three pointer came from good ol’ Aristotle and mediated through such lights as Quintillian, Democrates, and Cicero.

  2. dave paisley says:

    I’d have to say the one exception to the “acronym” sermon would be when the now-retired priest at my church rode his Harley down the center aisle, parked it by the pulpit and then proceeded to give a children’s sermon using the initials H-A-R-L-E-Y. I forget what the letters stood for, but the first one was Holy…

    Priceless, and still legendary today.

    After the service I popped my head in the sacristy to ask the altar guild how they were going to get the oil stain (I made this part up) out of the carpet. Almost sent three of them to hospital with heart attacks.

  3. Scott Lenger says:

    I find that acronym’s make the best sermons because they fit so nicely into fill-in-the-blank outlines.

    They help the audience feel good about themselves even if they don’t understand the sermon.

    More importantly, they help give the sermon a sense of meaning just in case it otherwise wouldn’t make any sense.

  4. Pingback: 2 preaching quotes « signs of life

  5. Bavington says:

    HELP. Can anyone supply a good joke about the three-pointer?

  6. David Baughman says:

    Mrs Patuzak? I had a Miss Patuzak as a teacher for two years of high school. I believe her first name was Loraine (sp). The school was Centennial HS in Circle Pines, Minnesota, and the years were 1964 and 65. Are we talking about the same person? She was a hard nosed, but really good teacher. I had a crush on her, and she paid extra attention to me (always gave me an A on my essays in Enriched English). I would love to contact her if she’s still on this earth.

    David Baughman in Fort Collins, Colorado

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