This post (and the next one) should probably come with the warning label, “Under construction.” And while I hope this process is well thought out, it doesn’t necessarily always play out so smoothly! So, with that out of the way …
Sermon preparation must be understood as a process. But the challenge is that every communicator has to discover the process that works best for them. Here, I will share what I’m currently doing in the area of sermon preparation with the hope it is helpful to others, especially to those starting out in preaching ministry.
Different strategies work for different people. Some people devote large blocks or days to sermon prep. Others spend some time in sermon prep every day. In fact, Andy Stanley and Ed Young, who wrote Can We Do That?, share their sermon preparation routines in the book. Ed spends some time every day and Andy blocks out two days, plus Saturday evening for review (he works on messages 2-3 weeks in advance, reviewing them the evening before).
Different settings work for different people, too. Speaking of Ed and Andy, Ed likes to prepare his messages at Starbucks and Andy prefers to work in isolation. I prefer isolation, as well (although with two kids under 3 that has taken on a different meaning!). I’ve always tended to work in motion (i.e., walking, pacing, etc.), though, so I usually do some of my reading / reviewing / praying on a treadmill.
One other factor that comes into play is one’s preaching calendar. If you follow the lectionary, Scripture passages are pre-selected. Preaching sermon series (as I do) usually involves some intensive pre-planning. I try (but don’t always succeed) to plan well ahead by blocking out weeks on the calendar for different topics/seasons.
Over the years, I’ve tried different strategies for weekly sermon preparation. In the last couple of years, I’ve had to make some major adjustments (again, blame it on the kids). But I think my current process, which I’ve been working on in recent weeks, is working well, so far. It involves doing some sermon work most every day. I’ve come up with five keywords to help guide me through the process, which I will write about in the next post.
This post is second in a series on preaching. The previous post is The Preaching Challenge.