Last week I opened up my Instagram to questions and I received a question that I never really thought anyone cared to know. My sermon prep! I am totally humbled by that! I have been told so many times how I am not a good enough preacher or a black enough preacher, so to get asked about sermon prep is so humbling! I do matter! (no sarcasm here)
So, about this. I am currently working on a book to talk through breaking 200 in attendance at a 200 year old church and one of the chapters is on storytelling so this is a preview of that. Hope this helps someone.
An overall piece of preaching for me is saying exactly what God says, even if I don’t want to say it. So it goes without saying but I will say it…Prayer! Prayer, and more Prayer. Remember As pastors we are responsible to simply:
Tell the people what God tells us to say
Challenge them to do what God has told us to challenge them to do
Move them exactly where God has prepared.
Here we go!
1 – I preach in series that I plan 4 months at a time.
I believe that we are best in clarity when we are not trying to force everything into a week, or just using the pulpit as a place for our devotional time. So I preach in series that are vaguely planned 4 months at a time. This is a 2-3 day process where I find space to get to a place of silence. When I plan the series I select:
The Title –What is the sound of the series?
The Scriptures –What is God trying to breathe (book study/individual scriptures)
The Graphic –What is the texture of the series?
The Ending point –What is the goal of the series?
The Movement –How does this clarify and/or enrich church Vision?
God’s Goal –What has God said about this?
Next Steps –What will the last week of this series call the people to do.
I have four different categories for my series.
Pastoral –Shepherding the People
Prophetic –Revelation of the Future
Personal –Life application and at times coaching
Evangelistic –Saving Souls
I will apply this with a recent sermon Series at our church called “Managing My Emotion’s .”Link to series-https://youtu.be/0Gpm3o4TRrY
Title –Managing my Emotions
Graphic –See video
Ending Point-“My Feelings Are Holy because I am God’s Encore”
The Movement –We are people who feel, we can aim our emotions to build our church
God’s Goal –“Justin, MY people are my greatest creation. They can worship me with their emotions”
Next steps –Healing beyond trauma and Seeking to build relationships beyond emotions.
Everything mentioned above is subject to change! The reason I plan 4 months out is the ebbs and flows of our culture at church. Jan-April, May-August, September-December are all unique! I can’t give a Graduating from college sermon when the students are arriving (September) or preach on transition in a month where nothing is in transition (February). Personally, I don’t preach particular sermons on holidays, we honor holidays in our worship experience. I think God Is super cool if I don’t preach John 3:16 on Easter or Luke 2 on Christmas.
2 – There are Two Constants that assist me in Sermon Preparation
My Mondays are sacred. I do absolutely nothing on Mondays. I don’t talk to anyone at our church unless its’ an emergency. I take time for me to catch up on shows, sleep, workout, and play with my family. This ensures that I don’t coat the next Sunday in Last Sundays failures or successes. Pastor, You need a sabbath.
I find a cup of coffee and a good sandwich. I love local coffee shops and a good Italian sub. Sometime during the week I find myself having both of these. These are ways I take care of myself by doing two little things I enjoy. Pastor, you need to take care of yourself.
Ok! On to the week!
Sunday-Preach Our Services
Monday – Nothing (see above)
Tuesday – (2-3 hours)
My morning Prayer is clarity on the scripture for the series.
I listen to Last weeks Sermon to see where I ended and the opportunities to improve delivery. Asking myself, What wasn’t communicated that God needed to communicate?
In the afternoon I take the scripture I feel led to and start writing down everything God is wrestling with me about or that I know about the text(s).
I let those notes sit and I pray over them.
Wednesday – (4-5 hours)
I start to research the text with at least three commentaries and 1-2 authors. I write down everything to ensure that My thoughts are clear and that research is thorough. I am a researcher at heart so this process that can take others hours takes me the morning.
I take my notes and research and see the overlap, check to see If anything has been debunked/enriched etc.
I form a rough handwritten outline to ensure that it is short, succinct, and that the people I preach to can write these items down as well. (This is one little quirk about me, every sermon is handwritten) My outline is a variation of the Proctor Method.
Exegesis/Literary Criticism(if needed)
Tweetable (140 character summary)
Synthesis and Application
Thursday (4-5 hours)
I begin the day in Prayer for concrete clarity
I put flesh to the outline as the Lord leads with analogies and the title coming last. This is so the analogies and title don’t guide the sermon, but the text does.
Friday - (maybe 1 hour) I spend as little time as possible on my sermon on Fridays. Here’s why. I spend time on Fridays going over the final things for our Sunday worship experience like our graphics, worship order, and such. This is a day of texture for Sunday’s Service. If I need to, I engage my sermon.
Saturday - (maybe 1 hour) After 6:00pm when we have our church prayer time I go and re-look at the sermon for the last time before Sunday Morning and spend time in Prayer.
For those interested, I hope this helps. There is not a “method” outside of self care, sabbath, prayer, and research. My goal is to simply make Heaven known on earth as the Lord breathes through me and trust me with his people.
I would love to hear from you on your method!