Sermon Design Help

Focus Stage

The Focus stage of sermon development is all about taking what you've found in the text and beginning to formulate exactly what you think the sermon needs to accomplish. To that end, this stage of the Sermon Design app asks you questions designed to give your sermon focus.

This view asks about several things which you might consider "metadata" about your sermon, meaning they are things which may not show up explicitly in the sermon itself, but describe the sermon's purpose and goals. Although these types of questions are often discussed in seminary or homiletics texts as important to identify as a part of sermon development, the fact that they don't show up explicitly tempts many preachers to bypass giving them concrete form. Thus, this stage of the Sermon Design app is meant to give you a gentle prompt to help you intentionally identify these important elements of the sermon.

A couple of the forms may need more explicit description, as they grow out of specific homiletical streams of thought:

  • Function: The function of the sermon is what you are trying to accomplish through the sermon, or as Long writes, "What the sermon does".
  • Focus: The "focus" of the sermon is the driving idea behind the sermon, or as Tom Long has written, "what the sermon is about". This is the main content/message of the sermon, what it is going to say.
  • Tone: What kind of tone needs to be struck in the sermon? Encouragement, or warning? Hopeful or inviting? The tone of the wise observer, or one of personally involved testimony? There are many different possibilities, dependent on the preacher's own personality as well as the intentions of the particular sermon.
  • Voices that need to be Heard:With many sermons, there are voices that need to be brought into the conversation that would otherwise be ignored. Perhaps there is a voice of counter-testimony to a wisdom sermon that offers general life advice. Or, perhaps a sermon about hope needs to acknowledge the good case for despair. Perhaps a sermon that has a function of calling people to greater responsibility in the way people use power needs to acknowledge the voice of those who feel disempowered.
  • Images, Metaphors, or Wordcraft: Have you identified images that will serve important roles in the sermon? Are there metaphors that you intend to use to flesh out core elements of the theology of the sermon, and what are the negative implications of those metaphors? "Wordcraft" might include key turns of phrase, small bits of distilled rhetoric that may have the capacity to be particularly illustrative or memorable.