Rhetorical & Homiletical Theory: John Bisagno’s Interview

John Bisagno went home to be with the Lord this past year.  However, there is still much to learn in reading his books on preaching, sermons, and through this 20-minute interview.

John Bisagno preached in the First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas for 30 years.  The attendance was approximately 1,000 – 2,000 in attendance a week and 200,000 on television.

“The final two years of Bisagno’s life were “extremely difficult,” his son-in-law Curt Dodd said, but he always maintained a positive attitude. His wife Uldine died of cancer in 2017 just after Hurricane Harvey destroyed their house and nearly all of their possessions.”


Here are some takeaways (transcribed from the audio interview) . . . .

#1) Before Improvement Is Dissatisfaction:

Let me begin by saying that — for some years I’ve had a personal frustration somewhere in my ministry.

I was not able to find what it was — I really didn’t know . . . . somewhere inside of me there was a frustration and unfulfilled desire that was the cause of my excessive concern and unhappiness with something about my own personal ministry.

It was a very real thing — a very simple thing . . . .  a dissatisfaction with myself — that I was not doing something as well as I knew I could do it

but the thing that was specifically bothering me was at the point of my sermon preparation.


#2)  Good Preaching Reinforces Leadership:

I want to say to you that if you knock a home run on Sunday morning you can cover any of that–  about 90 percent of the problems before they ever happen and keep them from happening– that you might have to run around solving and putting out a lot of little brushfires all through the week.


#3) “There Is Trouble In River City:”

I hear far too much preaching with — the same old rhetoric — the same old cliches — and after the introduction– and the Firstly — you know what the Secondly — the Thirdly — and the conclusion is going to be.

Most preaching that I hear

states a point and illustrates
states a point and illustrates

I believe in making your point

I believe in illustrating the point

But before — 1st making it

And 3rd — illustrating it

There must come in between presently — some logic

some argument
some support
some  buoying up
some logic
and reasoning
supporting up the point you have made

or you have shallow preaching.


#4) Preaching Involves Creative Thinking:

The thing that was bothering me was that I was not doing any creative preaching.

I was really parroting what somebody else had said [from commentaries or previous messages]

and in fact about all that I ever said was to just repeat the original thoughts of someone else

or we’re they originally — they got them from someone — who probably got them from someone else — who probably — well  — on and on it goes. . . . .

. . . . to analyze it — to see what it’s saying —

and hear me — then to make the application — of what that says to people today . . . . and it is hard creative, disciplined work.

. . . . we must understand that God has something to say – fresh – today – new to our people with a personal present-day application — for them where they are — it has to meet people’s needs. . . . .

You must apply – hear me pastors — application – application – application is the name of the game.

You get a lot of historical facts — or a lot of Greek interpretation and finish with a “SO WHAT!”


#5) Focus On One Main or Big Idea:

I try to get one key word about what we’re going to be talking about and center around that I’m thinking next Sunday morning.


#6) The Value Of Preaching “Without” Notes:

I think one of the most important things for a preacher to do —  is to preach without notes.

For this might not be for everyone — but I think that it is — it’s– it is for me.


Dr. John Bisagno on Writing Sermons

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