Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Preparing for Preaching

I was asked the other day by a friend who does not attend my church how I went about planning and preparing for sermons. Approaches probably vary from preacher to preacher, but in case you are one of my curious church members or you are looking for tips on how to prepare for your own preaching/ teaching responsibilities, here goes…

Firstly, I preach expository which means I take a specific passage of Scripture, explain it, apply it, and rejoice in it! My goal in preparing to preach is to make sure the main point of the text becomes the main point of the sermon and then to make sure I communicate that clearly and memorably. What the Lord does with it from there is His business. In choosing a sermon text it is helpful to remember that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) so you can’t pick a bad or useless text. I try to preach through one book at a time but I typically break it up with a short series (2-4 weeks) on a specific theme that I will cover from other passages (still expositionally). For example, currently I am preaching through Matthew’s Gospel but I’m planning a four-week series on Church Health in March that will cover three texts from Revelation and one text from 1 Corinthians. I’m also planning to preach three or four biography sermons over the next year. For this I’ll take a specific text or a couple key texts and explain them using the biography of a key historical Christian figure as an illustration and example of application.

I’ve dedicated a few days now at the end of 2008 to forecast the general direction of what I’ll be preaching over 2009 (especially the first 6 months). I also put together a “worship card” which I pass out to my congregation as a reading guide and outreach tool. This lists about ten to twelve Sundays with the sermon title, text, and memory verse for each week. Do I have all those sermons written? No. Besides some general and preliminary research I will do in advance, the bulk of my preparation comes the week before I preach the sermon. On Tuesday I really start digging into the text and taking notes. On Wednesday I will cull from commentaries and other sources and put together my outline. On Thursday I will polish it. Thursday and Friday are dedicated to preparing my Sunday evening sermon which is a bit less “preaching” and more “teaching”. The reason I don’t write these things out weeks ahead (I used to do that) is because I want to preach fresh and from the overflow of my own devotional life in the Scriptures. These aren’t merely rehearsed speeches. So there you go- my sermon prep in a nutshell.

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