Brother to Brother: Getting the Self Out

What Purpose Does a Sermonette Serve?

The sermonette is an important portion of the Sabbath service. 

Brother to Brother: Do or Delegate

Brother to Brother: Leading by Helping

Sometimes the best way to lead – and learn to lead – is by helping.

Sermonette Outline: “Why Parables?”


“Why Parables”

Key Scripture:

Mark 4:33-34


To explain what is meant by this passage.

Supporting Scriptures:

Matthew 13:10-17, 34-35


Mar 4:33-34 NKJV – “And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear [it]. But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.”

Why did Christ speak in parables?


  1. Passages where He answered the question:
    1. Mat 13:34-35 NKJV – “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
    2. Mat 13:10-13, 15-17 NKJV– “And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. … For the hearts of this people have grown dull. [Their] ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with [their] eyes and hear with [their] ears, Lest they should understand with [their] hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ “But blessed [are] your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; “for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous [men] desired to see what you see, and did not see [it], and to hear what you hear, and did not hear [it].”
  2. Explanation
    1. God’s plan, from the rebellion of Adam and Eve, is to allow mankind to go his own way, and to experience firsthand the result of his foolishness and pride.  This was not the time for the healing of the people of the earth as a whole. 
    2. As a witness, it was not Christ’s intent to challenge the masses with specific details”, forcing them into making a decision to believe or disbelieve.  For the masses, he was giving them a WITNESS of who and what He was.  We see a difference when He worked personally with individuals.  (Luke 9:57)


God has a purpose and a plan for mankind, with every human having the opportunity to understand and submit to His way. Speaking in parables served His purpose that this time.

A Powerful SPS

If you want your SPS to get attention, use these guidelines…

1. Always use ACTION VERBS in your SPS

  • Vague and general verb phrases result in a weak or non-existent SPS, while action verbs guide and define a strong SPS.
    • “About” is the most commonly abused passive verb phrase in speaking, leaving the audience (and sometimes the speaker) with no specific idea where the message is going.
    • For example: “Today, I’m going to talk about how to study the Bible.”
    • Exactly what do you mean?
    • While “How to Study the Bible” may be a topic, it is not an SPS.
  • Here are some examples of action verbs that establish a clear, strong SPS.
    • convince
      • My purpose is to convince my audience that we need to focus our minds on God’s Word more consistently.”
    • persuade
      • My purpose is to persuade the congregation to pray every morning.
    • inspire
      • My purpose is to inspire my audience to be more courageous in living God’s way.
    • explain
      • “My purpose is to explain meaning of the phrase “without form and void” in Genesis 1:2″
    • challenge
      • “My purpose is the challenge the audience to consider Matthew 7:3 and the ‘log in their eye'”
    • prepare
      • “My purpose is to prepare the congregation for challenges to their faith, by recounting the story of Abraham and God’s command to sacrifice his son.”
    • rehearse
      • “My purpose is to rehearse Christ’s lesson about the laborers in the vineyard from Matthew 20.”

2. Create strong, connected support pillars

Ask yourself…

  • “Do each of my points clearly tie to my SPS?”
  • If they had to stand alone, would they clearly do so?

A three-fold cord is not easily broken, and three support points are hard to beat.  But every point should be able to be tied into the SPS in your own mind.

If you don’t have the connection clearly in mind, don’t expect the audience to do any better.

3. Remember that a QUESTION is NOT an SPS. 

  • A question can serve as a title.
  • A question can serve as a means to present the SPS.
  • A question can help the speaker to develop an SPS.

However, remember that an SPS is a Specific Purpose Statement.  What is the point that you are trying to get across to your audience?  What “statement” are you trying to prove, support, or explain to your audience?

A question is not an SPS!

Speak well!

Recommended Reads: “The Great Influenza”, John M. Berry

(Editor’s Note: This was originally published in the December 2015 Ministerial Bulletin, which makes it particularly interesting in light of the current Covid pandemic.)

Book Review
The Great Influenza
By Gene Hilgenberg

The Great Influenza, The epic story of the deadliest plague in history.
by John M. Berry
Penguin Group (USA), New York, 2004

I have always been fascinated about reports of the Spanish Flu of 1918. If it was so bad, why did we not learn more about in history? With the occurrence of a more severe than normal annual influenza this past winter I begin to research the 1918 pandemic Influenza and came across this book.

The author presents an in-depth study of the 1918 influenza from the condition of medical science at the beginning of the twentieth century, to a detailed trail that the pandemic took in three waves through the US and around the world. He spends a lot of time dealing with individuals that had the greatest effect on curtailing or extending the virus.

In the beginning of the book the author is baffled that the progress of Medical Science in the early 1900’s seemed to be far behind the other fields of science. He blames the lack of progress on religion. He feels that religion hindered the understanding of what caused disease and slowed the discovery of microbes. I contend that if he had been a student of the Bible he would have realized that God gave ancient Israel knowledge of what caused disease and how to prevent it.

According to the author, the 1918-19 flu pandemic killed up to 100 million people world-wide. His death estimate is significantly larger than earlier estimates, but one that is often quoted in contemporary articles. The description of how this virus infected and killed is quite graphic and provides the reader with a real sense of the suffering it caused.

A chapter is spent detailing the influenza virus pathology, what can cause it to become violent and deadly, and how it can spread so quickly. One interesting fact about pandemic influenza that it is normally a virus that first starts in either birds or swine. By crossing with a human strain of the virus it becomes a virus that no one has immunity to so that it then can spread quickly within a population.

Pandemics come around only about 3 or 4 times a century and modern medicine feels with some certainty that if an influenza virus like the Spanish flue would show up that it would be able to quickly develop a vaccine to limit its effect. But can a vaccine be developed in time? The author points out that in 1997 with the H5N1 Hong Kong virus it took scientists more than a year to develop a vaccine. In 1918 the flu infected so many people so fast that the hospitals were swamped. Many of the health staff became sick so were not able to help others.

This book was an eye-opener on how dangerous contagious diseases can be, even one as common as the flu. It is a well-written book, as long as you overlook the references to evolution and the negative approach to religion and God. After reading the book I have a greater understanding of how the coming pandemics that God prophesied could come upon modern day Israel and this world at the end of the age.