I love to preach! There is no greater feeling than being used by God to transform lives by the things that come out of my mouth! Crazy! Especially when I consider how unworthy I am. It just blows my mind to know that I am making an eternal difference in someones life! I love to preach!
Yet I used to hate preparing to preach. Sermon preparation for many a preacher can be down right stressful and discouraging.
Yet in order to be an effective preacher you have to be equally effective in your preparation. The process will produce the product. If the process is flawed then the product will be as well.
So identifying best practices and proven methods of effective sermon preparation is critical to delivering life-changing messages.
Having studied a number of powerful preachers I noticed that they all have a consistent process or system for developing cogent and impactful sermons. After preaching for over 15 years I have finally settled into a simple sermon preparation strategy that works for me. My system may not work for you but it may help you to identify some practical things to do to help you deliver powerful messages consistently.
For the sake of clarity preaching for me is simply communicating the gospel through your unique personality. Nothing more. Nothing less. Preaching is art in that it is diverse and creative. Preaching is also a science in that it is based on laws of hermeneutics and exegesis. But, at the end of the day it must be consistently powerful and life changing not “with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4 NIV).
So every time I preach, I want my preaching through the anointing of the Spirit to produce transformed minds and changed lives rather than congratulations and applause. I have developed a 7 day sermon process. This process is based on series preaching that covers one topic or theme over several messages (For those of you who are pastors who have to preach regularly I have found series preaching to be most helpful to the preacher and to the congregation). My process is not meant to show you how to preach, rather it gives you a day-by-day picture of what to do so that you are ready when its time to preach.
Here is my 7 day sermon preparation strategy:
- I will listen to my most recent sermon I preached on Sabbath (day before) and take notes of things that I could have said and need to say in the following message.
- I read repeatedly the selected text for the upcoming Sabbath and meditate on it
to determine my sermonic goal.
- Day of Prayer and Fasting.
- Family Day
- I read in various translations the selected scripture looking for the big idea and the contextual situation.
- I take notes on initial thoughts and ideas that jump out of the text.
- I take a day off from the sermon and spend time in visitation and member care.
- This is a vital and is one of the most important parts of sermon preparation for application. Inevitably the Spirit will speak to me through my members and confirm or redirect how the Lord wants to use me on Sabbath.
- This is my main day for sermon internalization seeking to be crystal clear about the essence of what I want to say.
- I read all supporting material (commentaries, EGW, books, articles other sermons)
- I will clarify the big idea and main principle of the text.
- I seek to answer the following questions: What was this text saying to the original audience? What is this text saying today? What do they need to know? Why do they need to know it? What do they need to do? Why do they need to do it?”
- This is sermon organization day.
- Craft sermon notes and outline.
- I organize my sermon outline (no full manuscript just an outline) around one singular point based on Andy Stanley’s book on preaching Communicating for a Change:
- Me-Introduce the subject by finding a dilemma that I am currently facing and point of tension
- We-find common ground with audience around the same dilemma or issue
- God-Then I transition to the text to find out what God has to about this issue or dilemma
- You-Then I challenge me and the audience to act and apply what God said through His Word
- We-Finally, I close with several statements about what could happen in your community, your church, or the world, if everybody embraced that particular truth
- Wake up at 6am and spend time praying and taking a last walk through the message.
- Praying for a move of God.
- Praying for humility.
- Praying for flesh and self to get out of the way.
- Praying for souls to be saved.
- Preach with no manuscript and minimal notes.
Give me your feedback on this 7 day process.