For Preachers: Inductive Preaching is a Great Homiletics Professor

I’m a fan most all sports, but in high school I was particularly committed to baseball and golf. I played baseball fairly competitively, and I play golf as well as the next guy, who plays golf pretty poorly. I must say, I’d be a much better golfer if courses would stop discriminating against me, they refuse to mow the grass where I play. Anyway, I found that if the two games overlapped it was problematic. I formed some bad habits in my baseball swing because I was practicing golf, and visa-versa. inductiveI formed an uppercut in my baseball swing. Conversely, I started using too much wrist in my golf swing. One was not helpful for the other.

Inductive and deductive preaching, thankfully, are not like a baseball and a golf swing. Stick with the analogy. They should not be learned indepently. As you improve in one, you truly can and should improve in the other. One is vastly helpful for the other. I found this especially true of the inductive method. It should be noted of course, that the inductive method should not be forced. It is best saved for narrative literature and some of the cyclical general epistles. Let the text decide the method. Structure is our friend.

There are factors inherent to inductive preaching that hone important skills for all methods of preaching. Admittedly, I’m more of a deductive guy myself. I do though, enjoy inductive preaching, and certainly think it should be utilized as we preach expositionally.  I discovered that in preparing for my most recent inductive message I began to form some mental and practical habits. Those habits became great aids for the next time I prepared a deductive message. To become a better deductive preacher, preach inductively, and yes it works the other way too.

Inductive preaching necessitates asking good questions.
There are few skills in life worthy of learning more than the skill of asking good questions. I would rather have the wisdom to ask good questions, than the knowledge to need not ask.  In order to work towards your well-crafted homiletical theme, you must keep your listeners’ minds headed intentionally and clearly in that direction. And, in order to do that, you must ask questions that keep them tracing the truth with you. This is perhaps the primary challenge with the inductive method, in preaching the sermon yes, but in preparing the sermon, the task can be utterly exhausting. Brothers, we must ask good questions both in explanation and application, so that God from His Word may answer them with Himself. The text raises questions, and Author answers them. We must maintain that structure.

Inductive preaching demands singular focus.
You have a goal, and you must get everyone there with you. The nature of inductive preacher is tedious, because you must constantly appease your listeners’ desire to “know where you’re going with this.” The difference between the two methods can be summarized very easily, one is drawing from (deductive) and the other is driving to (inductive). When you are drawing from, you always have something to return to, thus your listeners desire to know your point is always appeased. When you are driving to, you must stay creatively and sufficiently on task in order that your listeners remain confident in your direction. As we grow in our skill to remain solely focused on our text with the inductive method, we naturally grow to remain solely on the text with every method. All Biblical preaching keeps the text absolutely primary.

Inductive preaching requires attention to drama.
Inductive preaching works beautifully for narrative portions of Scripture. When I preach narrative inductively I structure my outline with all the basic literary elements of the story. We want our listeners weeping with Job, begging with him for God to speak, angry with him at his tactless friends, and rebuked with him at the climax when God finally enters the dialogue. We must focus on the drama for one primary intent, that we may maximize the resolution and the Main Character. We must preach the drama of every text so that we may preach the ultimate drama of fallen man and Relentless Redeemer. We must give attention to the drama, because soon the preface will be over, the Author will return, and the real story will begin.

This is perhaps the greatest joy of inductive preaching. We get to preach the Hero, the resolution, the climax, the Beginning and the End. We get to preach Christ. Whatever our method, may our message always and only be Christ and Him crucified.

 Resources

Preaching Inductively As One With Authority is a great 10 minute read on the reasoning and construction of an inductive sermon.

The Word Became Fresh: Preaching Old Testament Narrative,  is immensely helpful for giving attention to OT drama.

2 thoughts on “For Preachers: Inductive Preaching is a Great Homiletics Professor

  1. It’s good to see you blogging about preaching, Kyle. There’s a great need for posts like this exploring the inductive method. (Btw, I had the same problem with my baseball and golf swings. 🙂

    Like

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