Every sermon has a structure.
Sometimes we structure the experience of the sermon intentionally; sometimes it just happens. Sometimes the sermon flows naturally; sometimes remembering what comes next is a real challenge. Sometimes we start with a structure in mind; sometimes we wonder afterward what structure best describes the sermon we preached. All preachers (and all hearers) have different experiences at different times with how a sermon weaves the text, the hearers, God’s Truth, and the Gospel together over time into a (more or less) cohesive whole.
But every sermon has a structure.
The goal of the Thy Will Be Done Pre-Lenten Preaching Workshop is twofold: first, we want to help you get through Lent. We all want Lent to be meaningful and faithful, personally formative and centered on Jesus. And we are all busy with the demands of ministry. The resources available for a Thy Will Be Done sermon series are designed to be used by in whatever way works best for you. You could adapt the Sunday sermons and use them on Wednesdays instead. You could preach from the Wednesday sermon outlines on Sundays and use the character monologs on Sundays. You could make sure everyone in your congregation has a copy of the daily prayer booklet, or you could decide to only use the prayers in worship. The quality and flexibility of the content will help you shape a Lenten season that leads your people to pray more faithfully for God’s will in their everyday lives.
But more than that, we want to help you add some tools to your preaching bag. Since every sermon has a structure, intentional or not, we want to provide options and examples that help you explore a wider range of sermon types than you currently use. Not every sermon design will resonate with you or your hearers; some will come naturally while others will be a higher challenge. But in the end you will have considered a range of sermon structures (and hopefully even used some!) that let you use a wider range of tools for the preaching task as you enter the Easter season.
Whether you need an introduction, a reintroduction, or some refining of your work with sermon structures, we want to help you take a small step forward in your preaching ministry. Your hearers will be engaged in the sermon to the extent the preacher is engaged; exploring different sermon designs is a great way to reinvigorate your preaching for Lent.
“Lord, teach me to pray as You prayed. Teacher, show me how to read Scripture as You did. Master, shape my life of faith to resemble Your trust in the Father’s will. Jesus, as I journey through Lent with You, shape me into a disciple who depends on You more and more. Lord, teach me to pray. Amen.”
–Prayer for Ash Wednesday, Thy Will Be Done daily prayers for Lent
You can see a comprehensive list of the various sermon structures in the Thy Will Be Done series by checking out the Overview of Sermon Themes and Structures.
For more on sermon structures with examples, you could check out my blog: Advent Sermon Structures
The best overview and introduction to sermon structures I know of is a presentation given by Dr. David Schmitt at the Days of Theological Reflection at Concordia Seminary in 2011. The presentation was titled, “Shaping the Sermon: Preaching as Pilgrimage.“
Combined, the Thy Will Be Done Resources for Wednesdays and Sundays include 18 different sermon structures. You can find a basic overview of all of these and other structures at https://concordiatheology.org/sermon-structs/.