Posted in Preparing to Preach

Flood the Passage with Questions

Recently, when preparing a sermon from John 21:9-14, a young preacher working on the same text, asked me my approach and how I planned to arrange the sermon. I really wanted to send him an outline and/or the entire manuscript. But he seriously desires to learn and grow in the craft, so I sent him the following. I wanted him to wrestle with the text. It is a list of questions that came to my mind before, during, and even after I typed out a manuscript. What emotional state would have the disciples been in at this point? Think about what you know...

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Preacher, It’s Easter. And You’re Not Alone

Preacher, let these words from a legend encourage you… From Eugene Peterson in his book As Kingfishers Catch Fire: “You may find this hard to believe, but the hardest sermon in the year for me to prepare is this Easter sermon. It has always been that way for me. I keep thinking I will get the hang of it and it will get easier, but it doesn’t. Why isn’t it easier? More people come to worship on this day than any other; the music is exuberant, with the choir in full voice and the hymns triumphant; the budding trees and...

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The Easter Sermon

I have an ugly confession to make. I don’t like preparing the Easter sermon. There. I said it. I wish it weren’t true. But it is. It’s not that I don’t have things I want to say. I do. It’s not that I’m not excited that a lot of people will be coming. I am. It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. I really do. It’s just that I feel the need to say something that everyone is already expecting me to say, and I need to say it simply, in a compelling way, and in...

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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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