When I was a young minister, my pastor Dr. James Lougheed at the Flint Baptist Temple (Burton, Michigan) would remind me all the time that 90% of the time you spend studying, reading and preparing the message, and the other 10% you spend in the pulpit having fun.
As Pastors, Associate, Youth Pastors, Bible teachers, and college professors it is important that we dig deep (become scholars/students of the word) into the word of God personally, before going into the pulpit or classroom to preach or teach!
Pastors, I found an outline in some old notes in my office, I have no idea who shared them originally, so I took the liberty to use them and added a few thoughts of my own.
What? So What? And Now What?
What do I need to know personally to understand a book or passage of the Bible?
1) Who wrote the book?
2) To whom was it written? (was it an individual? or was it to a church?)
3) When was it written?
4) Why did the author write the letter or book, what was his purpose or intention?
5) What tools or literary devises did the author employ? (did the author use a parable, miracle, or etc.?)
6) What kind of literature is the book/passage? (i.e. prophecy, poetic, etc.)
7) Who is speaking in this passage?
8) What are the key ideas, words, concepts, or issues that are addressed?
a. How has meaning of the words used in this passaged changed over time?
b. What current terms would evoke similar images or thoughts?
c. What are similar issues in our culture?
9) If the passage is a narrative, what are the characters like? It is important we try to see the story from their point of view.
So What? Now that I have a sense of the passage/book, how shall I use the information?
1) How does the passage speak to me personally?
a. What does it mean?
b. What does it move me to do/not do?
c. Is there discomfort/conviction created by this passage?
2) Does my church feel, think, or believe the same way I do?
a. If not, why not?
b. What is my role at this point in the church?
3) How can I recreate the discomfort/conviction by this passage for the church members?
a. Do the literary forms suggest anything?
b. How can I recreate the movement of the passage?
4) What shall we do as a result of the text?
a. Is it a matter of belief, values, or action?
b. Is immediate response called for, or longer-term transformation?
1) Begin to prepare the message itself.
2) It is important to take the first century concepts and culture and make it relevant today?
3) Develop images, stories, or illustrations that you want to share
4) Make the abstract concrete and general specific (Make it understandable)
5) What is the purpose of this message?
1) Do not run to commentaries or other external resources too quickly, live with the passage yourself for a time.
2) Do not begin writing the message too quickly, let the ideas from your study brew for a while.