3 Great Principles to Improve Sermon Application

When I am writing a sermon I do not want to get to the end of my prep process and realize I did not organically include any practical application for my hearers. This would be like asking people to sit through a sporting event that has no end result.


As preachers we must write with an ear to the actual application of the tidbits of study, interesting stories, and compelling illustrations and points that make up our manuscript. You see this is something I struggle with. I found so many interesting things that I just want to include it all and it made sense to me so why not everybody else!?

But, the problem is something that was clear to you in your study or a connection you readily made might not be as obvious for everyone else.

So here are some ideas to improve upon the “okay I just talked for 35 minutes on a passage with some interesting stories here is 5 minutes of application trap” that I had fallen into not that long ago.

Always Write With Application in mind

At the end of the day we want our  sermon to spur people on to action, to have a very practical application to their life that they can put into action tomorrow. So when you are sitting there with pages and pages of notes, and lists of cool things you found out about the text,  and compelling illustration after illustration ask yourself: does this point to a direct application? If not it might be best to save it for later when it will!

Tell Application Minded Stories

I talked about this on the Podcast last week. It is so important to connect application with personal narrative because it makes it so much more than, “well it said this so do this” you can show how that principle has worked in your life, or in your family, or in someone else’s life or even someone from culture or history. This is so powerful to do!

Contextualize Application for your Audience

I also talked about this on the podcast and it is something I try to do every week. What you can do is broaden your application by saying “this means to love your neighbor” and instead of just leaving it at that apply it to the different contexts that make up your audience. What does it mean for the high school student? For the thirty year old parent? for the middle aged? For the retired. Run the application through these filters and you will be so much more effective because you are not just talking to one person but as many as possible.


Application can be a tricky thing, especially if we think of it as something we have to tack on at the end of all the explaining, points, and illustrations. But if you remember these three principles it will make your job a lot easier and your application a lot more effective!

So let me know in the comments how you are bettering the application in your sermons?


Written by Joe Hoagland

Joe is a pastor at Rise Church in Marion, Oh. He is married to his awesome wife Jenna and they have one daughter Aryella.

He loves to lead people to Jesus and preach God's word.

You can often times find Joe hiking, camping, writing, reading, or enjoying technology.


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