Here is another great section from Calvin Miller on the importance of the preacher analyzing not only the text but audience:
The Sunday service is a gathering of troubles. Half of those who enter the church and take their seat before the pulpit are moving in a privatized fog of their own ills. In the words of Thoreau, they are living lives of quiet desperation. They are the dying anonymous. Their ills are real to them, yet they can confuse the untrained pastor because they keep up the appearance of having life in tow. The music, the liturgy, and the sermon may gang up on their sullen inwardness, trying to force them into the real world. But having moiled through the past 167 hours of their 168-hour week, their private doubts have numbed their hearts. Sunday’s single hour of God-talk does not last long enough to lure them back into the world where the sermon would have them live. Given the choice, they would never choose to be mummified in the bandages of their own ills. They want to be free, and that’s partly why they first came to church. They are usually too fogged to care about when Leviticus was written or whatever happened to the Hittites. They are the wounded, reaching out to snare the God-words that fly at them between eleven and twelve o’clock. They are pew sitters, trying to remain anonymous, while they cry out to the sermonizer, “Hey look! I’m here! I’m bleeding.” They do not want us to bring a set of ancient commentaries against their injuries of heart. They just want a counselor to stop the hemorrhaging of their souls, and if that can’t be done they would like some life-survivor to show them a set of well-healed scars so they can leave the service believing that healing is possible.
The first thing to be done to this section on exegesis is to define the word. It comes from the Greek exhegeisthai (ex “out of”; hegeisthai “to lead, guide”) which means to lead out, just as exodus comes from the Greek word exodos meaning the “way out.” Exegesis implies a gaining of understanding by taking a thing apart to see into the nature of how it works. There is no ending to the study that must be done to complete the exegetical work of preaching. Although we generally apply the word exegesis to the text itself, every element of preparation and delivery must undergo its own exegesis. If only the text and preacher are exegeted—however noble the study, however devoted the preacher—there still is no sermon. So let’s begin our analysis with the exegesis of the audience…
Audience analysis is also the most formidable work of the local pastor. Just because the pastors have preached hundreds of sermons in one place does not give them the liberty of skipping the work of audience analysis for even one single Sunday. The best of them know that their congregation will not be the same this coming Sunday as it was the last. Their world and their community have changed daily since last they preached. Every parish is undergoing constant renovation.
People are being born and dying within any given week. Terrorists made everything in late September different than it was in any early August. Whole communities suffer shock and blessing from day to day. Oncologists have suddenly laid a terrible prognosis against some key member of the church. Stockbrokers sometimes ruin a lovely week or lifetime with horrible announcements that truncate the future. Fortunes are lost, lotteries won, children break their parents’ hearts, engagements die, Super Bowls are won, elections lost, all in a single week even within the smallest of communities. Only the preacher who sees his flock undergoing constant change has the right to preach. Every parish pastor must analyze his audience Sunday by Sunday or the sermon will miss the mark because the expositor, who may have thoroughly exegeted the text, has gone asleep at the business of people, the first business of God.