Recently I spoke with a couple of ministers about preparing for sermons beyond the writing and reading. Here quickly is how I try to prepare my soul to deliver a message and consider the things I want to say.
1. I write down my sermon points in my journal.
The only thing on this page is the outline. I look at it each day to think through what the sermon is about and where its going. I do this because I don’t manuscript my sermons. This also allows me a way to pray for my sermon for myself and the congregation and makes the sermon more than a nice essay or blog post that I wrote. I want it come from a heart that has dealt with this portion of the Scripture and has pondered how you repent of sins from this text, ask for grace going forward, etc. To me, it’s equally valuable as the study time.
2. I read my sermon text everyday.
This seems obvious enough, but by reading it everyday, it stays with me and I become much more familiar with it while delivering the sermon.
3. Write down thoughts and points to pray as I mediate on the sermon.
I ask questions of the text to get my mind and heart going. What do I see to praise God for? What character of God is evident here? What of my sins do I see? What about my family, society, church, etc. do I see? How does Christ answer that sin? How do I need grace going forward? What are the implications if this text isn’t true?
I may or may not return to these again, but because I find writing things down part of the preparation process, it helps these things to stick with me as Im preaching.
4. Become familiar with the rest of the service
Some ministers only prepare their sermons and often show up not knowing what is scheduled for the rest of the service. I’ve made it a habit to review all parts of the liturgy so that all parts are flowing and heading towards the same place. The sermon is the apex of a worship service, which means it must fit with the songs, prayers, Scripture readings, etc. as much as possible.
5. Sunday morning before leaving home.
I pray through the Lord’s prayer for our worship service and the sermon and read the text a few more times. I find this time very important. I don’t want to walk into our worship service Not having some focused prayer on the worship service and the Lord’s Day as a whole.