Christ Centered Preaching

Christ Centered Preaching

This is a brief summary of the information found in chapter 2 of Christ Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell – Obligations of the Sermon.

In the preamble to this chapter, Bryan Chapell states that statements of truth (even biblical truth) do not make a sermon. In fact, Chapell asserts that well-constructed sermons require unity, purpose and application.


Sermons of significant length have many theological concepts, illustrative materials and corroborative facts. However, this does not mean that the sermon is about many things. In fact, a sermon should only have one major idea. In Christ Centered Preaching, Bryan Chapell states that the major idea glues the message together and it makes it features stick in the listener’s mind. All the features of the entire sermon should support the concept that unifies the whole.

The Reasons For Unity

The reason unity is necessary is because it keeps the speaker focused. As Chapell asserts, we need unity in order to funnel biblical truth into a manageable message. Unity may appear binding at first but it actually frees preachers from entrapment in the labyrinth of language and explanation possibilities.

Also unity is necessary because it keeps the listeners focused. Sermons are for listeners. Therefore, all good communication requires a central theme. As Chapell notes, listeners more readily grasp ideas that have been formed and pulled together by a central theme.

The Nature of Unity

The unity that Bryan Chapell is referring to in Christ Centered Preaching comes from the text itself. In other words, the Scriptures should determine the unifying theme. What is the author of the passage talking about and what is the author saying about what he or she is talking about?

The theme, purpose or focus of the biblical author must capture what the sermon is about so that God’s truth is revealed to those listening to the sermon’s message.

The Process of Unity

How do we get unity in a sermon? It is important to realise that this does take some work but when you get it, it will save you time and help listeners get the biblical message.

First, read the Scriptures and determine what is the main idea conveyed by the author. Second, take this main idea and develop it into one concise statement.

Chapell states that when we can crystallize the thought of a passage the focus, organization and application of the message become clear for the preacher and the listener.

The Goal of Unity

The goal of unity in a sermon is to present one central theme that has purpose and application. With unity a sermon is able to focus on a central theme in depth.


Chapell believes the purpose of the sermon is built around The Fallen Condition Focus (FCF). Chapell asserts that we do not fully understand the central theme of a sermon until we have also determined its reason or cause.

The FCF needs to be specific. The central theme of the sermon may be the following: Being Unfaithful to God? The following statement would be better and more riveting: How Can I Maintain My Integrity When My Boss Has None?

Finding the FCF statement does take some work but again once you have mastered this, it will save you time and your listeners will love you for it.


Application simply answers the so what question. People have the right to ask, “Why did you tell me that? What am I supposed to do with that information? All right, I understand what you think – so what?”

In Christ Centered Preaching, this is what Bryan Chapell says about application: “Biblical preaching moves from doctrinal exposition to life instruction. Such preaching exhorts as well as expounds because it recognizes that Scripture’s own goal is not merely to share information about God but is to conform his people to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Preaching without application may serve the mind, but preaching with application requires service for God.”

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