Inductive Preaching

Inductive Characteristics

How do you decide if a sermon you are preparing or a sermon you hear is inductive? Here’s a checklist of characteristics to be found in inductive sermons.

  1. Accents human experience and learning from experience.

  2. Accepts hearers with respect “as are” and where they are; acceptance differs from approval.

  3. Accommodates, adjusts to hearers’ need and limited faith, not just to preacher’s status.

  4. After reaching agreement and cooperative conclusión the sermon may push for action.

  5. Analogy created via parable, experience, human instances and figures of speech.   

  6. Arranged to proceed from particulars, examples, instances to reach cooperative conclusión.

  7. Assertions are delayed until vital, interesting evidence leads to a convincing conclusión.  

  8. Assumes positives sharing posture - not defensive negative stange.

  9. Audience analyzed to determine their hostilities, needs, reservations and hang-ups.  

  10. Authority is achieved, earned, not assumed; authority holds low profile at first.

  11. Avoids threat, rigidity, abstract generalizations and premature conclusions.

  12. Based on deep-seated human habit of induction - learning from experience.

  13. Begins where the people are - not where the preacher is.

  14. Begins with attitude of acceptance, charity, respect toward hearers.

  15. Begins with common sense instead of theoretical abstract logic.

  16. Begins with life and experience, not just rational exercise.

  17. Begins with parable, facts, experience, case, human instance, interest, examples.

  18. Bible used as example before it is cited as the ultimate authority.

  19. Coincides with Protestant heritage - every man his own priest with opportunity, responsibility.

  20. Combines well with deductive after reaching compelling, cooperative conclusión.

  21. Compares and contrasts before jumping to conclusions.   

  22. Conclusions come at the end; tentative, partial conclusions follow the evidence.  

  23. Concrete common sense instead of theoretical abstract logic - especially early.

  24. Conflict, polemics, defense and negative stance are all out of place in induction.

  25. Directness includes: direct discourse, “you,” “we,” “our,” “us.”

  26. Doctrines often must be felt to be true before they can be understood to be true.  

  27. Evidence precedes verdiet, problem prior to solution, questions before answers.

  28. Examples from life form a basis for learning, involving, concluding.

  29. Experience, examples and evidence come before assertions, thesis or conclusions.

  30. Experience serves as early proof, absis for learning and life.

  31. Feeling and involvement follow naturally from shared experience.

  32. Feeling and reality should be underscored rather than words or ideas alone.

  33. Harnesses deep-seated human habit of induction; rides crest of current cultural trend.  

  34. Hearer agreement and involvement precedes all exhortation or proclamation.

  35. Hearers identify and become involved with shared experience and cooperative conclusions.

  36. Human instances aim at interest and involvement.

  37. HUman interest precedes instruction, indoctrination or exhortation.

  38. Ideal for uninformed, unconvinced, uninitiated, uncommitted, indifferent or hostile heares.

  39. Illustrates rather than coerces or forces: illustrations are innately interesting.    

  40. Illustrations precede propositions; facts precede force, persuasion or fervor.

  41. Intellect and will alone cannot receive the whole truth-feelings are vital too.

  42. Intensity and urgency follow initial inductions and come after tentative conclusions.

  43. Interest and involvement are seen as higher goals than mere indoctrination.

  44. Investigates before it instructs; solves problems before giving answers.

  45. Jesus related to experience of his hearers via narrative and parable.

  46. Key question establishes common ground-may be stated or only implied.

  47. Key questions set the agenda-not previous conclusions of the preacher.

  48. Leads in cooperative quest rather than pushes to conclusion.

  49. Leaves options, choice and responsibility to the hearer.

  50. Lends itself to variety, interest, involvement, cooperation and commitment.

  51. Moves from known to unknown, from analogy to reality, from facts to faith, life to God.

  52. Narrative element precedes exhortation (postpones or perhaps even precludes hortatory).

  53. Nonadversary method appeals to many today.

  54. Open attitude and stance bring hearers to consider options.

  55. Organized to give vital and interesting evidence leading to cooperative conclusión.

  56. Past is viewed as experience-not as tradition or basis for authority only.

  57. Personal involvement of the preacher is vital for involving hearers.

  58. Picture thinking creates imagery, parables, interest, involvement.

  59. Psychologically sound - begins where hearers are and guides via sense and experience.

  60. Reasonable common sense has more appeal than authority and abstract logic.

  61. Reasons from particular facts, experiences, instances in cumulative manner.

  62. Relates to hearers and their needs, seeks to share rather than shove.

  63. Sermon leads up to conclusion, rather than running down from proposition to the end.

  64. Specific instances cited before drawing any generalizations or making any assertions.

  65. Today’s accent more on see, feel and do than on traditional hear and think only.   

Jesus’ Teaching and Preaching

His Preaching Is Largely Inductive

His Teaching Is Largely Deductive

  1. For “the people” – the many

  2. Sometimes to multitudes, public

  3. From life – parable, experience, story, analogy, examples, Bible

  4. Based upon experience, life

  5. Relates primarily to hearers

  6. Leads to faith, Bible, God

  7. Leads to belief and teaching

  8. Accents narrative elements

  9. Examples precede argument

  10. Examples prior to faith

  1. Needs several examples

  2. Points to probability; reasonable

  3. Leans on common sense and life

  4. Begins with hearers’ questions

  5. Begins with hearers’ interest, then leads to mutual conclusion

  6. Clamors for attention and interest.

  7. Seeks common ground and rapport

  8. Seeks to gain respect, authority

  9. Leads to faith and teaching base

  10. Primarily evangelistic

  11. Primarily for unbelievers, youth

  12. Begins where hearer is without faith

  13. For outsiders, uncommitted

  14. More descriptive

  15. Publishes announcement

  16. No strict rules - reasonable

  17. Provides analogies from history

  18. Compares and contrasts experience

  1. Accents the concrete

  2. No authority but life, experience

  3. Not reinforced with proofs

  4. Non adversary  stance

  5. Prophetic accent on change

  6. Demands decision

  7. Allows no postponement

  8. Preacher doesn’t tarry

  9. Preacher wins converts to faith

  10. Prepares people to receive teaching

  11. Calls to choice, obedience

  1. For disciples – the few

  2. Demands small growth groups; private

  3. From Scripture, text, biblical base

  1. Based on biblical faith

  2. Relates primarily to truth

  3. Builds on faith in Bible and God

  4. Prepares believer  to preach inductively

  5. Accents didactic element

  6. Examples follow argument

  7. Examples follow assertions, assumptions

  8. One example may suffice

  9. Assumes agreement, faith, belief

  10. Leans on formal logical sequence

  11. Begins with answer, solutions

  12. Begins with speaker’s conclusions, the pushes to application of them

  13. May assume hearers’ attention, interest

  14. Assumes rapport and common faith

  15. Assumes respect and authority

  16. Leads to service and more preaching  

  17. Primarily educational

  18. Primarily for the faithful

  19. Begins where speaker is – with faith

  20. For insiders, believers

  21. More hortatory

  22. Pushes assertions

  23. Accents logic, order sequence

  24. Leans on logical dictums, tradition

  25. Follows speaker’s conclusions, assertions

  26. Abstractions are common

  27. Assumes authoritative posture

  28. Leans on logical proofs, authority

  29. Defensive, adversary stance

  30. Priestly accent on status quo

  31. Assumes agreement

  32. Teaching takes time

  33. Teacher repeats and perseveres

  34. Teacher enables converts to serve

  35. Equips believers to preach inductively

  36. Calls to growth, maturity

Jesus Teaching and Scribes and Pharisees teaching





Past tense


Institutionally oriented

Explained by defining

Relied on tradition

Stressed abstract thought

Relied on authority


Trusted rules

Ruled people

Conclusions set

Programmed to a set pattern


Rationalistic accent

Accented words of others

Present tense



Explained by showing, doing

Relied on present facts

Stressed inner feelings

Relied on experience


Trusted relationships

Respected people

Evidence before conclusion



Relational accent

Accented his own words and works

The Sermon on the Mount

  1. Analogies- 5:3-16

  2. Poor, mourners, meek, merciful, pure, pacemakers, persecuted, salt, light in human experience.

  3. Attitudes – 5:17-48

     Self-righteousness, hate, lust, respect, honesty, revenge, love, giving, prayer, fasting, greed, anxiety, judging, faith, choice.

  1. Alternatives – 7:24-29

Gates, fruits, trees, foundations.


2.320 (18 – 20 minutes)

Images, pictures, examples, illustrations.(Wolves, sheep, fruit, light, rock, sand, storm, built, etc)  

348 or 1/6 2/3  words


142 or 1/16 words

Verbs for energy, action

404 or 1/6 words

Pronouns to clarify and relate

320 or 1/7 ¼  words

Seconds person pronoun for directness

221 or 1/10 words

Present tense-relevance, realism

65% approximately

Future tense

30% approximately

Past tense

5% (149 words KJV- not tradition not authority)

Varied viewpoints

42 different aspects of happiness

You or yours

221 times

Scripture records 153 questions Jesus asks his listeners

Jesus teaching:   1. Introduce idea

2. Explain-illustrate simply.

3. Reason

4. Apply-“go and do”

Subject in His teaching and perching:

 1. Adultery 2. Anger 3. Anxiety 4. Avarice 5. Death 6. Debts 7. Doubts 8. Eternity 9. Faith 10. Fasting 12. Fault-finding 13. Giving 14. Greed 15. Honesty 16. Hypocrisy 17. Kindness 18. Joy 19. Knowledge 20. Law 21. Legalism 22. Life 23. Lust 24. Marriage 25. Money  26. Oaths 27. Parenthood 28. Prayer 29. Pretense 30. Respect 31. Responsibility 32. Reward 33. Rules 34. Sex 35. Slander 36. Speech 37. Stewardship  38. Taxes 39. Trust 40. Unkindness 41. Virtue 42. Wisdom 43. Zeal

Jesus preaching no dogmatic, deductive and doctrinal instead he tells stories

How we learn?

Actually we all learn by a variety of processes:Inductive Processes
 1. We learn by listening
 2. We learn by discussing
 3. We learn by watching 
 4. We learn by inventing
 5. We learn by thinking
 6. We learn by remembering 
 7. We learn by associating 
 8. We learn by modeling
 9. We learn by attaching
 10. We learn by choosing
 11. We learn by by searching  
 12. We learn by reading and praying
 this involves proclamation.
 this involves conversation.
 this involves observation.
 this involves experimentations. 
 this involves cogitation. 
 this involves reflection. 
 this involves imagination
 this involves imitation. 
 this involves relation.
 this involves decision. 
 this involves exploration. 
 this involves revelation. 

The Master Teacher's Methods

  1. Object lessons (John 4:1-42)

  2. Points of contact (John 1:35-51)

  3. Aims (John 4:34)

  4. Problem Solving (Mark 10:17-22)

  5. Conversation (Mark 10:27)

  6. Questions - As recorded in the Gospels, Jesus asked more than 100 questions for the purpose of provoking people to think and seek the truth.

  7. Answer- Jesus used His answer to move people from where they were to where they needed to be in order to grow spiritually. Jesus encouraged people to discover the truth.

  8. Lecture (Matt. 5-7; John 14-17)

  9. Parables (John 10:1-21; 15:1-10)

  10. Scripture - Jesus quoted extensively from the Old Testament to teach people God's truth.

  11. The teachable moment (John 4:5-26)

  12. Contrast (Matt. 5:21-22, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44)

  13. Concrete and literal examples (Matt. 6:26-34)

  14. Symbols (Matt. 26:17-30; John 13:1-20)

  15. Large and small groups (Matt. 5-7; John 14-17)

  16. Individual teaching opportunities (John 3:1-21; 4:5-26)

  17. Modeling (Matt. 15:32; Luke 18:15-17)

  18. Motivation (Matt. 16:24-27; 20:21-28; Mark 1:16-18)

  19. Impression and expression (Matt. 4:19-20; 7:20)

  20. Himself (Matt. 28:19-20)