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Published by Dan Murray, 2019-09-25 16:08:51

Preaching the Sermon

BOOK

1.

12.

3. Give yourself plenty of time.​ Start thinking of what to preach about as
soon as possible. Give yourself at least one week, if not longer.​[1]
○ When possible, it's actually wiser to start searching and planning a
couple of weeks in advance. It can take a while before the right
passage reveals itself, and even longer to prepare the right sermon

around that passage. The words you preach need to be the result of
thought and discernment, and not an emotional reaction.

4.

25.

6. Pray and meditate.​ Ask God for guidance. Since you'll be preaching God's
truth, you should wait for God to reveal the truth He wants you to preach
on.

○ Make a conscious effort to be in communion with God as you
attempt to discern the right topic. Take a walk in the park as you
pray. Meditate as you shower. Spend a few minutes thinking about it
in the quiet morning hours.

○ Either a specific passage or a specific topic will come to mind. Both
options can be useful as long as you keep the message centered
around the Scriptures.​[2]

7.

38.

9. Look for passages addressing your topic.​ If a topic comes to mind
before an actual verse does, start looking for passages that directly talk
about that topic. Comb through several different options until you find one
that jumps out at you.
○ If a passage jumps out at you before a topic does, apply this step in
reverse. Comb through the passage looking for its meaning. Once
you latch onto the theme of the passage, consider looking up short
supporting passages to note along with it.

10.

411.

12. Start over when needed.​ Don't be discouraged if you hit a dead end while
pursuing one possible subject for your sermon. There are times when you may
need to start the process over from scratch. Doing so might seem inconvenient,
but it is a better option than forcing a message you can't wrap your thoughts
around.

Part

2

Studying the Text

1.

12.

3. Pray for insight.​ Once you know what to talk about, pray for insight on what you
should be saying about it. You should be in communication with God throughout
the entire process of preaching, including each preparatory step.​[3]

4.

25.

6. Focus on the Word.​ The message of your sermon should be centered
around the Bible. Start from the passage or passages you've been led to
and build the rest of your sermon up from there.
○ The message you preach should build upon biblical truth, not the
other way around. In other words, you shouldn't plan out the
message ​you​ want to deliver and twist scripture around in a way that

fits ​your​ ideas. Your ideas need to work around the scriptural truth
that already exists.

7.

38.

9. Research the passage.​ Study the passage thoroughly to improve your
own understanding. Consider its meaning within scriptural, historical, and
cultural contexts.​[4]

○ Look at the verses around the passage. Make sure you know and
understand its immediate context so that you don't misinterpret the
meaning.

○ Do a little external research, too, especially if the passage describes
a custom or idea that is foreign to contemporary ways of thinking.

10.

411.

12. Determine its significance.​ All of God's Word is significant, but you should
be asking yourself why this particular passage is so important and why God
wants you to preach on it.
○ Figure out the theme of the passage. Ask yourself what it says about
God and why people need to listen.
○ Note that some of this might be answered as you go through the
process of selecting the passage, especially if you found the
passage by searching the Bible for a specific topic.

13.

514.

15. Let yourself be surprised.​ Don't assume that you already know everything
there is to know about the passage you're working with. Let yourself be
surprised by truths and perspectives hidden beneath the surface.
○ When dealing with a passage you're already familiar with, it can be
easy to fixate on the safe, common meaning you already know.
Don't settle for seeing only what you expect to see, though.
○ On the other hand, you also shouldn't look for hidden meaning that
may not be there. Don't twist the text around for the sake of finding
something shocking or new; simply accept any surprise insights that
naturally arise.

Part

3

Preparing the Sermon

1.

12.

3. Prepare the text of your sermon beforehand.​ You can write out the
entire sermon or simply settle for an outlined version, but either way, you
should prepare a written plan that you can use when you're actually
preaching.
○ Having a prepared text will usually keep you more centered when
you actually start preaching. Unless you're remarkably fluent in the

subject matter, impromptu preaching tends to be more disorganized
and less insightful.
○ You can write the entire sermon word-for-word, use shortened notes,
or use an outline. Outlines are generally preferred since they make it
easier to look out into the congregation as you preach and limit the
temptation to stare at your notes the entire time.

4.

25.

6. Offer context.​ Some passages may seem self-explanatory, but oftentimes,
those passages make more sense within a broader context. Include any
scriptural or historical information needed to really bring the text into focus.
○ Think back to the research you did while trying to understand the
passage. Information that granted you new understanding should be
included in your sermon. ​[5]
○ Don't get too carried away, of course. You still need to focus your
sermon on the Word itself. Supporting details should be used to
increase the listener's understanding of the passage and should not
steal the show.

7.

38.

9. Apply the message.​ You need to illustrate how the text applies to real life
in the contemporary world. Give your listeners information they feel can be
useful to them as they navigate through the trials and temptations of the
everyday.​[6]

○ Start with the end in mind. As you organize your sermon, think about
what your listeners need to learn from it and structure the flow of the
sermon so that it builds up to that.

○ Directly relate the message to some real-life scenario, and try to
choose a fairly common scenario that will appeal to as many
different people as possible. By illustrating one possible application
of the message, you can help your listeners understand how to apply
the message to their own lives.[​ 7]

○ In applying the message, you should also end up challenging the
listener. Your sermon should give your listeners something to think
on and prod them into doing some type of positive action that is
consistent with biblical truth.

10.

411.

12. Practice.​ Practice preaching the sermon aloud beforehand. During your
practice, you should also time yourself and edit your sermon appropriately.
○ As a general rule, aim for a sermon roughly 25 to 30 minutes long. A
sermon that's meaningful but a little on the short side is usually more
effective than a long, rambling sermon.[​ 8]

○ Practicing your sermon can also help you determine the most
effective way to preach it. The more familiar you become with it, the
easier it will be to add pauses and stresses in all the right places.

Part

4
Preaching the Sermon

1.

12.

3. Pray before you start.​ Before standing up and preaching to the people,
you should spend a few quiet minutes praying for guidance, clarity, and
wisdom.

○ Even if the text you've written has been prayerfully crafted and
practiced, you still need to pray for the ability to deliver it well. You
should also pray for the hearts and minds of your listeners to remain
open to the message.

4.

25.

6. Speak in layman's terms.​ Avoid using academic jargon or other phrasing
that some of the congregation won't understand. Speak in simple,
conversational terms so that the message will be accessible to everyone
who hears it.
○ This doesn't mean that you should water down or simplify the
message. The truth you preach should be deep and meaningful, but

the words you use to preach it must be understandable to the
majority of your audience if you want them to make an impact.

7.

38.

9. Be approachable.​ Your body language should be engaging. As a general
rule, try to appear confident and friendly instead of looking stiff, nervous, or
overly-stern.​[9]

○ Even if you don't feel confident, you should try to look it. Avoid
nervous ticks, the frequent use of nonsense words like “uh” and
“um,” and other signs of anxiety. If you don't look confident, the
message of your sermon might lose credibility.

○ Your manner of speech, movements, and expressions should match
with your words. Behave seriously when talking about something
serious, but relax when talking about something lighthearted.

10.

411.

12. Stick to the point.​ There might be times when the Holy Spirit legitimately
takes you in an unexpected direction, but for the most part, you should stick
to the text and points you prepared beforehand. Losing focus in the middle
of a sermon can cause it to drag on and seem aimless.
○ When a sermon drifts off course, you may end up losing a good
portion of your listeners. At that point, it can be easy to start talking
more in an effort to bring them, but additional rambling will usually
hurt your cause more than help it. A better option would be to simply
remain more concise from that point on.

13.

514.

15. Use humor and creative tricks carefully.​ The use of humor and creative
illustrations can help a sermon when applied in a supportive nature, but if
you rely on these tactics too much, they can actually weaken the overall
message.

○ Any humor you use should be relevant to the overall message. It
might be used to grab the listener's attention or illustrate a point. It
can even be used to relieve tension.[​ 10]

○ You should n​ ot​, on the other hand, use humor to win approval. It
won't do anybody any good if the congregation remembers your joke
but forgets the message.

16.

617.

18. Learn and improve.​ After you finish preaching, evaluate how effective you
were. Ask for feedback from those who listened to you. Figure out what you
did well and where you can improve, then adjust your technique
accordingly the next time you preach.
○ Go to other members of your pastoral team or trusted members of
the congregation for constructive critiques.

○ Consider asking someone to record you as you preach, then watch
the tape shortly after church ends that same day. You'll probably be
able to learn a lot just by watching yourself.

○ Accept the fact that you aren't perfect. There will always be room for
improvement, especially when you don't have much prior preaching
experience.


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