This material was originally prepared to train pastors in Africa who have had no formal training. It isn't purposed to replace or compete with what one may have learned in Seminary. It is purposed to cover the basics.  Since it is common for pastors to miss the basics at times, this can provide a reminder. Links in this color have been prepared by a pastor who now has his Doctorate. All the information contained herein including the links have been reviewed by a pastor with a Doctorate in Theology.



  1. Discipleship: Shepherd the congregation: 

    1. Teach sound doctrine.

      1. When?

        1. Bible Studies How to Study the Bible

        2. As part of preaching

      1. What? 

        1. Essentials - Doctrines

        2. Details found on many good websites - Got Questions  Carm

        3. Verse by verse - Use a concordance to help with context and meaning.

    1. Challenge listeners to make changes in their lives to be consistent with the Bible. - Preaching which must have a “so what.”

      1. Verse by verse to teach in context.

      1. Topically when context is sure.

        1. Foundations gives an overall perspective and is doctrinally sound.

        2. Teach other topics such as Forgiveness, Regrets, Grace, etc.

    1. Teach Spiritual Disciplines - The Guide for Christian Living

    1. Teach how to understand the Bible using "Design for Discipleship."


  1. Evangelize: Bring new converts into the flock.

    1. Personally evangelize unbelievers

    1. Train the congregation to evangelize by using methods including those in How to Evangelize.

      1. Those with the gift of evangelism - special training

      1. The rest

        1. Basics of sharing their faith

        2. Concept of lifestyle evangelism




  1. Preparing a sermon (Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you truth and how to share it)

    1. Verse by verse

      1. Study to understand the context of the passage. Apply appropriate principles of interpretation to understand the author's intended meaning of the passage.

      1. If you have time, memorize some or all of the passage.

      1. Break down the passage into subjects.

      1. Decide which subject or subjects you wish to focus on.

      1. For each subject, come up with a “so what?” Ask yourself, how does this impact the life of the listener?

      1. Write out an outline.

  1. The goal of preaching is to present the truths of the Bible in such a manner that it will be clearly understood.

    1. Be memorable

    1. Use personal stories that illustrate the meaning of the verse.

    1. Include applications that will be relevant to their lives.  That is the “so what.”  The goal in the application is that you connect to something in their lives in such a manner that while listening, they will think of a common event. When that event happens during the week, they will remember what was preached. This is like finishing tying a knot.

    1. Prepare application questions along with teaching sound doctrine. Connect directly to the people as much as possible.



Definition of Preaching: Holy Spirit inspired application of the truths of the Word of God accurately interpreted for the benefit of the hearers.


  1. Be doctrinally sound; be accurate to what the author of the text is saying; speak truth. If anyone should ask you where you found what you said in scripture, you’d be able to tell them. (James 3:1)
  2. When possible, quote scripture from memory. It shows that you value God’s word and that your wisdom is coming from it, not yourself.
  3. Pray and ask the congregation to pray with you that your words will be what the hearers need to hear.
  4. Be simple enough for those listening.
  5. Be relevant. Those listening have to be able to relate to what you are saying.
  6. Focus on foundational topics. As you go through verse by verse, spend the most time on topics that are the most important in the lives of the listeners.
  7. Focus on application. Share challenges that are nearly equal for the weak and strong believer.  Examples: "Anyone who knows the good he ought to do but doesn’t do it sins"; "Love your wives.' If possible, be specific with applications. Example: Don’t simply say, “Love one another,” but also, “What can you do better to meet your family members or friends’ real needs?”
  8. Share parallel currently manifested "worldly" truth to help the unbeliever and weak believers alike, better view and value the truth of the Bible. Example: Share how our bodies wear down and like the rest of creation are untrustworthy.
  9. Be humble so they hear you talking from your weak struggling self, never as who has conquered sin.
  10. Preach each message as if it is your last. You've been given a gift and an audience who you must believe needs to hear what you're sharing from God's Word. Pour yourself out.
  11. Included stories must be relevant to the passage or topic and be kept as short as possible. Preferably, they will be relevant enough to be memorable and remind the hearers of a spiritual truth. If they weren’t planned, have confidence that they are Holy Spirit led for the benefit of the congregation.
  12. Indicate in some manner that you really care about them. Be personal.
  13. Make what's important memorable which will require a lot of repeating. 
  14. Be interesting and loud enough at times so they don't zone out. 


PREACHING INCLUDING APPLICATION helps the congregation remember and apply the message.


The difference between teaching and preaching is that preaching includes "so what." In other words, how does what you just taught matter to their lives? Teaching involves sharing information and preaching is intended to change lives. Include as much “so what” as possible when preaching. A very high impact will result when the preached application is able to progress to level 4, as shown below. Level 1 typically applies to everyone.  Several level 2 and 3 examples will need to be presented to be able to apply to the diverse audience.  A challenge for everyone to prayerfully consider what level 4 looks like in their “unique” situation ties the teaching to a specific action step that can be completed. This results in the greatest chance that they will apply the truth. It is of course the work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the meaning of scripture, to soften hearts, and to remind the individual to apply truth. Preachers need to do their part. (Col 3:23)


Four levels of application:

  1. General:  Love others as Christ loves you.

  2. Specific:  Love your wife like Christ loved the church.

  3. Detailed:  Show her love in her love language, not the way you want to.

  4. Specific action:  I plan to spend at least 15 minutes each day talking and listening to my wife.  

Including all these applications creates a "mental bridge" tying together God’s Word, God’s Word revealed in the sermon, and something specific in the life of the hearer.  It creates a greater chance that the link will go the other way as well. When the hearer experiences the specific action in their lives that they’ve been convicted to change, their mind will tend to link back to both the sermon and God’s Word. This provides a strong bridge between shared truth and desired growth. It tightens the knot.


Sermon Preparation

(The color coding below refers to connecting, teaching and application)


1)  Goals

a)   Present the truths of the Bible in such a manner that they will be

i)    clearly understood.

ii)   memorable

b)   Include application that is relevant to their lives.  That is the “so what.”  The goal in the application is that you 

i)    connect to something in their lives

ii)   in such a manner that while listening

(1) they will think of those events.

(2) When they are living their lives and those events comes up, 

(a) they will remember what was preached. 

(b) This is like finishing tying a knot.


2)  Methods and Steps to follow

a)   Pray

b)   Prepare 

i)    application questions Show how it applies to their lives

ii)   along with teaching. Teach what it means.

iii)  Connect the passages directly to the lives of the people as much as possible.

iv)  Use resources to help come up with more ideas. This survey of the Bible is an excellent resource.

c)   Use stories that illustrate the meaning of the verse

d)   If you have a hard time coming up with specific application questions, one’s like this can be used from time to time.

i)    "What would Christ do in this situation?"

ii)   "Are you willing to obey God in this matter?"

e)   When preaching verse by verse

i)    Read or be familiar with as much as you can

(1) the surrounding passage

(2) other passages that include a similar subject

ii)   Who is the message being written to? For example

(1) Jews

(2) Christians

iii)  What is the bigger story of the passage around it?

iv)  How does this fit into the big story of the Bible?

f)    When preaching using the Doctrine list. (You can know these to be true)

i)    Read many verses about the topic

ii)   Study the topic so you understand it as much as possible.

g)   When preaching using Foundations  (You can know these to be true)

i)    Read many verses about the topic

ii)   Study the topic so you understand it as much as possible.

iii)  There are many questions in the Study Guide that you may wish to ask.

h)   When preaching about another topic

i)    Read many verses about the topic

ii)   Write out your conclusions

iii)  Check your conclusions against another source. (2 Tim 2:15)

i)    Look over the "Prioritized Preaching Goals" and do your best to include the ones at the top of the list.

j)    Look over the "Preaching that Includes Application" and do your best to include the 4 levels.


Examples of connecting, teaching and application.


Example 1: Romans 12:17-21

17 "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19  but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."


Breaking down these verses

  1. What:  “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.", "Do not take revenge, my friends,"

  2. Instead: "but leave room for God's wrath" "On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink."

  3. Why?: "for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord"

  4. Result: "you will heap burning coals on his head."

Romans 12:17a, 19-21   

  1. Was there a time when you took revenge on someone?  

  2. Confess (admit you did it and it was wrong)

  3. We all thank you God, for having forgiven us of all our sins. (I John 1:9)

  4. Have you considered that revenge can include you not doing a good thing that you normally would have done? 

  5. Revenge clearly belongs to the Lord.

  6. Can you see that when you take revenge, you are doing something that is not yours to do? It isn't your job. It isn't your place.

  7. Visualize a judge ready to give a sentence to a criminal and you stand up and say what the sentence should be.  It is as out of place for you to take revenge as it is for you to do that.

  8. The next time someone hurts you and you feel like taking revenge, remember that revenge is God's job.

  9. Your job is to, if possible, do a loving act for the person who has hurt you.  That means doing something that is best for them.


Rom 12: 17b-18a  

  1. This is an example of why we don’t look at just one verse but need to look at them in context of both the verses around it along with the rest of the Bible. If we look just at the second part of verse 17, we could get the idea that we have to be so careful with all of our actions as to not offend anyone. That would seem impossible as one action may offend some people and another might offend others. The next verse makes it clear. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” 

  2. This is something that everyone can do. 

  3. We are commanded to do our best to live at peace with everyone

  4. Are there people in your life that you are not living in peace with?  Are you doing your best?  

  5. Take a moment now and think about what you can do better. (Pause for 15-20 seconds)


Example 2: James 1:2-4

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 


Breaking down this verse

  1. What:  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, 

  2. When: "whenever you face trials of many kinds," 

  3. Why: "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." 

  4. Explained: "Perseverance must finish its work" 

  5. Purpose: "so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

We have different reasons why we struggle with this.

  1. We are short-sighted.  

  2. We don’t see the big picture. Just like we may not take care of our health, fully knowing that if we don’t take the medicine that we got from the doctor for malaria, this may cause us to die or be very sick. 

  3. We must look at the truth and meet the problem head on, not putting our hands over our eyes and over our ears and in doing so ignoring the truth. 

  4. We don't have a vision for what we look like as “mature, not lacking anything.”  We don’t have it because we don’t ask God for it. (James 4:2)  So, we don’t have that awesome vision of who we look like as a mature godly man or woman to inspire us.

  5. We don’t trust God that He desires and is able to mature us.

Looking at the three points above, how do we justify in answering to God why we continue to view trials as damaging to us when it is so clear that the outcome of the trial is maturity?


More examples from the book of James


Outline examples from Jude




Instruct the congregation to keep two documents (pieces of paper, on computer or phone), that would look something like this.


PAGE 1  (Application the reader believes the Holy Spirit is leading to put into practice from each sermon.)

  • Passage      

  • Application


PAGE 2 (Two to three applications that the reader is currently working on as a subset of Page 1)

  • Application      

  • Specific steps       

  • Progress


REDUCE FORGETTING: Evidence shows that most people forget the topics of even good sermons. The following may not be a good analogy but I hope it makes the point.  

  • Reading/hearing God’s Word is like eating.  It is able to nourish the body and makes or keeps it healthy.  For the recipient to fully benefit, meditating on the truths in scripture is important.  That’s like chewing the food.  Without doing so, certain foods won’t break down and be useful to the body.  

  • Application can be compared to exercise.  It requires one to be deliberate.  There are literally hundreds of forms of exercise and exercise programs.  If someone tries to do a little here and there, it won’t necessarily result in desired results.  Choosing two to three types of exercise, one aerobic, one stretching and one with resistance typically returns good results.  In the same way, working on two to three “spiritual disciplines” at a time will be much more profitable than starting something new each week and forgetting what may have been very productive from a couple of weeks earlier.



the congregation will have a better chance of growing if they always have about three “goals” in front of them.

For example:

1.       Read and meditate on the Bible at least fifteen minutes daily.

2.       Perform one act of love toward my wife each day in her love language.

3.       Spend five minutes each day meditating on God’s love.



Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:19

Below is a sample of what you'll learn about Evangelism. The focus of these methods is to evangelize with as little confrontation as possible. It is JESUS that is to be the stumbling block, never our presentation or attitude.  "we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" 1 Corinthians 1:23



CONNECT: Meet a need. Do or say something nice. When the person responds, "Thank you," you can say,


BRIDGE TO THE GOSPEL:  "I'm happy to. God has shown me so much love I'm happy to pass it on to others." If you get any sort of positive response, you can say,


SHARE THE GOSPEL: "The best way God showed love to me was to send Jesus to die for all that I've done wrong so I can go to Heaven." It is very quick and very effective. Most of the time you will be able to tell from their response whether it is helpful to continue. Even if that is all you say, you just shared the way to eternal life with them. MORE



CONNECT:   Talk about what you can agree on first. Even if you haven't, a great first question to ask is, "What do you think will happen when you die?" It fits everyone because everyone dies. "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." I Corinthians 9:22b     MORE


BRIDGE TO THE GOSPEL: Building a bridge between you and the other person is most effective with questions. A second question to ask for those who respond, "Heaven," is "Do you think Heaven is a perfect place?" If they say yes, you can ask, "As far as doing good things, do you think you are perfect?" If they say no, the next question switches the conversation from you not being sure what to say to them not knowing the answer. "So, when you die, how do you change from being imperfect to being perfect so you can enter Heaven?"  The final question is one you can ask unless they respond as a believer that Jesus provides the way. "May I share with you how that happens?" For those who don't answer like the majority of people, you'll find how to respond HERE to different responses you may hear.


Another way to bridge.

If they have a belief system already that differs from Christianity, ask them sincere questions about 1) what makes them sure that what they believe is true and 2) how they enter into Heaven. (if they believe in Heaven). Once you've spent over half of the time you think you'll have with them asking questions and politely listening to what they believe, ask: "May I share with you what I believe?"        MORE

SHARE THE GOSPEL: There are many ways to share the gospel. One simple way is to share two verses, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 and "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6    


The command to go and make disciples was given to all Christians, not just the ones with a gift of evangelism. You have just learned enough to be able to share your faith. You no longer can think that you don't know what to say.  Memorize five simple questions and two verses and you are equipped. These questions and these verses have been shared by Christians just like you and they are very effective. To learn this along with sharing your story if that is more comfortable to you, click on the lessons.


Components of sharing the Good News

This is roughly the order and number of verses that are found in the Evangelistic narrative portions of Acts.



a)    Reasoning without needed foundation in Bible. 

b)    Reasoning from mutually accepted part of Bible.

2.  REVELATION: Reasoning or sharing from the Bible something new to the hearer.

3.  GOOD NEWS: The gospel message.

4.  PROBLEM: Sin, separation from God.

5.  SOLUTION: Repentance

6.  CONSEQUENCE:  Separation from God.




The resources below are presented in a manner that the reader can complete the work without significant help.  The help that is needed and that you will provide is in answering questions that may arise as readers may not understand the meaning of a question or Bible verse. It’s best that you complete these studies at least a few weeks ahead of the students.

Guide for Christian Living

This guide is designed to go through the disciplines of the Christian life.  These are things that a Christian needs to “do.” 

Foundation Study and Questions

This is designed to be a big picture look at our relationship with God.  The truths listed here are derived from the Bible. Think of someone you’ve known for many years. If you were asked to describe them, you wouldn’t list all the details of their lives, but rather who they are as a person and what is important to them. Foundations does just that, considering the Bible as a whole and sharing what God desires out of a relationship with us and how He wants us to live.

Navigators Design for Discipleship This comes with a leader's guide and teaches the reader doctrine, how to read and study the Bible, along with several other aspects of the Christian faith. It is best completed by including small group sessions.




It is most important that you understand and know these basic truths of the Bible.