Applying the Text
Part of the preacher’s job is to apply the truth of the passage to the lives of those listening. Application can be a list at the end of the sermon or spread out throughout. It can include an illustration of someone who has applied the truth to themselves or a series of questions. Questions are vital in application because they force the listener to respond personally. The greatest application is not a series of how-to steps, but encouragement to pursue Christlikeness.
One way to think through application is by using an application grid. Since the Gospel applies to all of life, application in preaching should hit a broad variety of people and life situations. A grid takes into account the many different types of people that may attend: ages, marital status, gender, and occupations. Using the grid helps the preacher apply the truth to a wider swath of the congregation and protects against the natural tendency to focus on a select few. The grid also encourages corporate application as well as individual application.
Application should go three levels deep. The first level is the action itself. In this level the preacher answers the question "What should I be doing?" The second level is the occasion. Here the preacher answers the question, "When and where should I be doing this action?" The final level is most important and that is motivation. This is where the preacher helps the listener answer "Why do I do the things I do? Why should I stop doing certain things and start doing others?"
The application grid is a tool that helps preachers and teachers develop thoughtful application that covers many different occasions in life and ensures that the listener understands the heart truths that motivate obedience to Christ.