Three letters that may revolutionise your preaching

Let me save you some time and point you to a great resource to improve your preaching.

1. Get Bryan Chapell’s Christ Centered Preaching (and this post, coming soon)

2. If you are a beginning preaching, read the whole thing through. It’s good on the basics.

3. If you are an experienced preacher, especially if you have been trained and versed in biblical preaching, look up the index and follow all the links to ‘Fallen Condition Focus (FCF)’. This is Chapell’s particular contribution to the field of preaching; I have found it a really helpful way to reach for the purpose for which we are to preach.

What is the FCF?

The FCF addresses what condition in fallen humanity required the Holy Spirit to cause this passage to be written. Thus the theme ‘God is Love’ may be true, but the FCF asks why this truth is required in this context: what has caused people to doubt or forget that God is Love?

The Fallen Condition Focus (FCF) is the mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those to or about whom the text was written that requires the grace of the passage for God’s people to glorify and enjoy him. (Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 2nd Revised edition ed. (Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group, 2005), p. 50)

The FCF is determined by addressing three questions: (p. 52)

  1. What does the text say?
  2. What spiritual concern(s) did the text address in its context?
  3. What spiritual concerns do listeners share in common with those to (or about) whom the text was written?

FCF and Application

The first beauty of the FCF is that it directs us to the application by showing us the problem that Christ addresses:

The fact that the message is focussed on an aspect of our fallenness precludes simplistic, human-centered solutions. If we could fix the problem with our own efforts, then we would not be truly fallen. Application that addresses an FCF … directs people to the presence and power of the Savior (Ibid., p. 54)

The preacher’s task is not to find novel ways to identify Christ in the text but

To show how each text manifests God’s grace in order to prepare and enable his people to embrace the hope provided by Christ. (Ibid., p. 279)

FCF and Organisation

This then gives us the central purpose around which we can organise our sermon:

Only when we determine what the text requires of us as a consequence of the FCF the sermon addresses do we know how to focus, phrase and organize the explanation of the text. (Ibid., p. 105)

We can start straight away with the introduction:

Until preachers identify a fallen condition that makes is clear why a message is important and will be helpful for listeners’ walk with God, they give the average person no more incentive to listen than to attend a lecture on quantum physics. (Ibid., p. 241)

Just do it!

Maybe you can see how revolutionary this is: the FCF is a tool to keep us focused on preaching gospel not law: this is an engine for gospel-driven preaching.


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