Learning the Art of Sermon Application

Jeramie Rinne | July 23, 2013

After 15 years of preaching, application is still one of the trickiest parts of sermon writing. Why?

I struggled early on because seminary equipped me well for exegesis and interpretation, but not as well for Bible application. That's why we have the stereotype of the fresh-out-of-seminary pastor whose sermons sound more like a Bible commentary and less like a word from God. And speaking of commentaries, they seem to provide infrequent help in applying the text. They tend to serve us best by addressing interpretive issues.

Perhaps application will always elude us somewhat because there's something live and dynamic about it. Application deals with how God's timeless message speaks now, and now is always changing. Or maybe the difficulty lies in the fact that exegesis is more the science part of sermon writing, and application is more the art. And as an art it will always be a bit nebulous.

Whatever the reason, we struggle to do good application, and as a result one of the common beefs people have about church is that they don't understand how the sermon relates to real life. No wonder pastors get tempted to jettison expository preaching and instead primarily address topics that…

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