Posted in Preparing to Preach

Putting it All Together: Introduction

The introduction is critical. It is the take off. If you have a smooth take off, the congregation will trust you and go with you to the landing. If the take off is choppy, it will be hard for them to “enjoy the ride.” So I will say it again: The introduction is critical. Take the time and do the hard work to think through how you will begin the message itself. If you work hard here you will not have to work hard during the message itself. Let me recommend 2 approaches. First, use the introduction to illustrate and/or...

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Putting It All Together: What’s the Purpose?

You’ve determined the broad and specific meaning of the text. You’ve thought through how it needs to be communicated. (also here and here and here  here). You’ve ensured it is a Christian sermon. You’ve got all of these parts and pieces and thoughts and ideas floating around. How do you put together a sermon in a concise, simple, easy-to-follow, compelling way? You are taking people on a journey. You better know where you are going so you can know when you have arrived. Start by asking yourself, “What’s the purpose?” In other words, considering all you have arranged and put together, you...

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Determining HOW to Preach the Text: Preach So They Can Teach

Though I mentioned this in a recent post, I want to expand this idea. Much of my preaching ministry has not even given this a second thought. My aim has been to communicate biblical truths to people in the room, hope for a response, hope that some jotted down notes to refer to later, and move on to next week’s sermon. And, to be very honest, I still struggle with implementing this. However, Jesus said we are to be about making disciples (Matthew 28:19); and Paul said pastors were to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12)....

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Determining HOW to Preach the Text: 4 Ways to “Go With It”

I do my best to start the sermon off with something that will help me gauge the temperature of the audience. I like to get a feel early on whether or not I am dealing with a rowdy bunch or a sleepy bunch; a hungry crowd or a “have to be there” crowd; a happy people or a grumpy people. Though I have my preferences as to which kind of crowd they are, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. When preaching a text of Scripture, I have to go with it. And to preach it most effectively,...

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Determining HOW to Preach the Text: Intrigue (4 Suggestions)

I often joke that the 11th Commandment is “Thou Shall Not Bore.” It ought to be a rule of life, in other words, to NEVER – EVER be boring. Life is way too short to be a drag. Unfortunately, far too many people assume that far too many preachers are boring. Let’s change that. But let’s also be real. It can be hard. Especially if you preach to a majority of people who have spent much of their lives in a church. Explaining the Bible to people who have been taught the Bible most of their lives in a compelling...

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Preacher, Use Your Imagination

The chapter heading in my Bible tells me Psalm 18 was written after God delivered David from his enemy, Saul (2 Samuel 21). It was a dramatic deliverance, to be sure. It had been a long time coming. A jealous rage came over Saul due to the whole Goliath ordeal and never stopped (you have to go all the way back to 1 Samuel 17). David, as anyone would be, was grateful and full of praise to the Father for it all to finally be over. If you read Psalm 18, however (along with its very similar counterpart in 2...

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Three Advent Series Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No doubt. Who doesn’t love Christmas? But let’s be honest, preachers. . . how we do we say what’s already been said (many times, many ways . . . see what I did there?) and what everyone already knows in a compelling way? It’s hard. If you have pastored at a church for more than a couple of years, thinking of ways to say the “old, old story” in a captivating way can be difficult. So, let’s share some ideas with each other shall we? Below are three years’ worth of Advent...

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Determining HOW to Preach the Text: Look Around

You’ve determined what text to preach. You’ve determined how the passage fits in the context of the Bible book. You’ve determined the specific meaning of the passage. Although this is  hard work (I hate to say this, BUT. . . ), it is not the most difficult part of sermon prep. Resources abound to help you determine the meaning of a text. But NO ONE has written a book on how to preach it to YOUR people. There are tons of experts on the Bible you can glean from. Chances are, other than you, there are zero experts on your...

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Determine the Specific Meaning of the Text

“A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” The preacher’s job is to determine what the author meant when he was inspired by the Spirit to write what he wrote. Once the broad meaning of the text is determined, the next step is to get into specifics of the passage being prepared to preach. In other words, when you have figured out why the passage you are studying is there (broad meaning) – you need to get into the weeds for specifics. This will help you begin to see how the form of the sermon might look....

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Determine the Broad Meaning of the Text

Once you have decided what text to preach, the next step is to determine the purpose of the passage. Years ago I heard someone say, “A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” In other words, the preacher’s job is to figure out what the author of Scripture intended when he wrote it. “A text can never mean today what it never meant then” MUST drive your thoughts and study as you work through the text. So, how does the preacher go about figuring that out? Let me suggest you ask and answer each of the following...

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