A Process To Help Develop The Big Idea
In trying to arrive at and then phrase the Big Idea of a passage, begin with the basic topic embodied in the passage or verses.
This well-known template may help you begin the process —Welcome To Jeopardy! — “Today’s topics are . . . .”
Let me begin by first putting the steps or process into words. Then I will try to clarify and/or explain the process by using the Jeopardy analogy.
#1) As you look at the passage you are going to teach or preach on, ask yourself this question . . . .
What would a person come to me about which would force me to go to this passage — this specific passage?
For Example: If the passage was John 3:10-21, what would a person come to me about, what question would a person ask me about which would force me to go to this passage — above all other possible passages in the Scriptures?
What is there about this passage that would address this question better than any other passage?
What is there about this passage which is meaningfully different from other similar passages and therefore would push me this direction?
Obviously, if the passage were John 3:10-21, whatever he or she came to me about, it would have to do with the topic of “Faith.”
More specifically — the question asked me and which would force me to go to this passage would have to be about the topic of “Saving Faith.”
However, there are many passages which one could choose because they also address “Saving Faith.” How would the question being asked, relating to the topic of “Saving Faith” be different from another question which also addressed “Saving Faith?”
How is John 3:10-21 different from other passages?
What does this passage on “Saving Faith” address or offer which is meaningfully different than other passages on that topic?
What makes this passage the best answer to that “question?”
What question does this passage answer better than another passage on that same topic?
Disclaimer: There are passages on any topic or specific topic which may answer the same question. However, the passage you are using may answer a question, a specific question, than other similar passages.
Welcome To Jeopardy
Now let’s illustrate what we are doing using Jeopardy.
The “topics” are on the top of the columns because they represent the various potential biblical topics which our verse will fall under.
- Saving Faith
The questions under “saving faith” are all going to be questions which speak of “Saving Faith.”
Welcome to Jeopardy!
Our topics today are . . . .
Saving Faith . . . Grace . . . Hope . . . Love . . . and the last category is Faith
“I’ll take Saving Faith for $10.00.”
Here is the first answer: John 3:10-21
The Question Is: “What must I do to be saved?”
Saving Faith for $20.00
Here is the answer: Ephesians 2:8-9
The Question Is: [Let’s list our several preludes to a Big Idea]
What is – Grace not works?
What is – Grace, not works so no man can boast?
What is – Works and Grace Do Not Mix?
What is – Works and Grace Never Mix?
What is – Grace glorifies God & Works glorify you?
What is – God’s grace comes first and works follows that grace?
What is – It is either Grace or Works, but never both?
- You are beginning with the passage – Ephesians 2:8-9
- Establishing its general topic – Saving Faith
- And then determining — What question does that passage answer which is meaningfully different than other possible passages?
That is the first step in the process, and it is moving you down the path of thinking about that particular passage in a way which is different from other passages which also speak about saving faith.
i.e. — The $20.00 “What is . . . ” answers — do not fit the John 3 passage.
The topics or Jeopardy Categories could be all related – close cousins . . . .
- Saving Faith
- Sharing Our Faith
- Bible Characters of Faith
- God’s Salvation Plan
The process is the same.
What is the topic of this passage
What separates this passage from other passages which also addresses that topic.
In the end, the Big Idea is unique to this particular passage. Otherwise, you are going to just be talking about the topic of “Saving Faith” over and over, separated only by time and a different passage. The passage you are speaking on has something “unique” unto itself as it relates to “Saving Faith.”
It is in seeing that . . . .
the passage is unique in what it offers
the passage answers a question which others passage do not
the passage answers a question, which other passages do not answer so effectively when it comes to . . . .
. . . . which then get the mind thinking about how to frame the Big Idea of this particular, selected passage.
Now, you will still have to work and rework the actual wording of the Big Idea. How well you are able to capture and state the Big Idea is dependent on the time you take to tune the wording of the truth or principle which reflects this specific passage.