Sermon Preparation Steps

Recently, I asked one of our elders to preach for me in my absence. In the weeks leading up to that Sunday, I did my best to help him prepare. One of the things I did was to give him a document that outlines my preaching preparation process. I made it clear that the steps outlined in the document are simply what works for me. In my library, I have around 25 volumes on preaching and I am sure that each of those preachers and authors would do things a little differently. However, there are some principles of preparing an expository sermon that are non-negotiable and cannot be neglected or omitted.

With that little disclaimer, here is the 13 step process that I try to follow each Sunday.

  1. Find a text (If you are preaching through a book of the Bible, this part is already taken care of)
  2. Immerse yourself in the text – read it over and over and over again
  3. Make as many observations as you can, asking all kinds of questions of the text
  4. Ask: what does this passage mean? This is the critical work of interpretation, which could be argued is the most important step in the sermon preparation process
  5. Start to think through what the big idea or “burden” of the text is
  6. Begin to outline your passage/text
  7. Make sure you can clearly articulate how this passage points to our sin nature (what is sometimes called the Fallen Condition Focus) and that you make a beeline to the Gospel of Christ
  8. Think through how this sermon might apply to your listeners and how to communicate it best to them
  9. Write out a manuscript for your sermon. It doesn’t have to be word for word, but the main ideas should be down on paper
  10. After completing the body of the sermon, write out your introduction and conclusion
  11. Memorize the sermon (condense it to an outline and some notes if you wish before entering the pulpit)
  12. Pray…..pray….pray! (In fact, every step of your preparation process should be done in prayer)
  13. Preach! This is the easy part after doing all the hard work of preparation

Everything is in now the Lord’s hands. Trust the power of the Word, the power of the Spirit, and rest in God’s promise:

“so shall my word that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

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