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August 1, 2012

Preparing For A Sermon

I often get asked the question, “How do you prepare for your sermons each weekend?” Some people think that I walk up on stage and the Holy Spirit just instantly gives me words of wisdom. As much as I sometimes wish this was the case, the reality is that it takes a lot of time, studying and prayer.

I begin informally preparing for my sermon about a week in advance, and the process always begins with prayer. I am an imperfect man, and I know that the only way to preach truth to our church is to ask God for His guidance and wisdom. As I pray throughout the week, I begin researching the topic and asking the leadership team at church for their creative and biblical input. We have some fun meetings at the church office; and by the end of each meeting, we’ve come up with a few great ideas and about a dozen awful ones. I also try to get as much feedback and insight from Chris as I can. She often has insightful stories and illustrations that really enhance the message.  (If I’m really lucky, I can sometimes get her to speak with me.)

Once I’ve done most of my reading and research, I sit down at the table on Thursday to outline my message. As soon as I sit down, I begin with prayer because it can feel so overwhelming trying to put something together that is both honest and meaningful. After I’ve prayed, I go to work on arranging the message, making notes and pulling Bible verses out. This process takes hours, and I usually have papers and books spread out across the table by the end of the night. By Friday night I try to have my notes and outline completed so I can tweak the sermon on Saturday morning. I will often present part of the message to Chris to see what she thinks, and I find her feedback invaluable.

By the time the first service comes around on Saturday night, I always feel a certain amount of insecurity, even after doing this for many years. Whenever I begin to feel anxious about the sermon, I again have to get on my knees and ask God to speak through me. Some weeks go smoother than others, but I’ve found that humility and honesty will ultimately allow God to use me to spread His truths. So, that’s my creative process —  not nearly as glamorous as some people think, but it’s what works best for me. I’d love to hear how you like to work and how you seek out God’s voice in your work and life.  Please share with me in the comments.