How do YOU write a sermon?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Jkdbuck76, May 22, 2007.

  1. Jkdbuck76

    Jkdbuck76
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    ...not "how does one write a sermon?"

    But I'm curious: How do you personally write a sermon?
    How long does it take?
    How do you pick out a section of teachable text if
    you're doing expository preaching?
     
  2. TCGreek

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    As a pastor for years I have never really written out a full sermon text. I have been committed to expository preaching for years now. But this is how I do it"

    1. Once I know where the church needs to go, from my studies and reading of the Word, I select a text, from which I would do a series of expository preaching. Right now I am doing a series on the "Glory of Christ as He is presented in the Gospel." My text is 2 Cor 2:12-6:10. I have already done to lessons.

    2. I read and reread the text that I am preaching. I look at the Greek and then I try to capture that one dominant idea that others are supporting from the text.

    3. Then I make an outline.

    4. Then I see what commentators have said about the text.

    5. I pray about the lesson.

    6. Then I go to the pulpit with only my Bible. I never take notes with me, not even a 3X5. And I have been doing this for years.
     
  3. jshurley04

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    Sermon Time

    Usually, I need about 4 to 6 hours straight. I generally am reading various passages during the week and on Friday or Saturday, sometimes night, I will sit down and simply write out what the passage says. During the week I may jot down a main point outline and follow those points. I believe that the passage should speak to me and the church from the basis of what we need that Sunday. So when I write out what the passage says, it is not rewriting scripture, but rather breaking down the passage into useable bites that carry the common theme of the passage and of the message.

    I work in outline form and do NOT manuscript my sermons. I feel that for me, to do so is to limit the freedom of the Holy Spirit to change the direction as He sees fit. There have been times that I have preached a sermon that barely resembled the direction of my outline because the Spirit led me in a different direction. In fact, at my first full time staff position, I actually wrote about 5 different sermons for the night that I preached for the first time. God never gave me a distinct direction until the solo special before I preached. I reached into my brief case and grabbed a sermon that I actually wrote in Bible College and had just enough time to make it look like I was reviewing and not frantically studying so that I was ready. God worked that night and the alters were full.

    I try to stay flexible so that I can follow whereever the spirit leads.
     
  4. TCGreek

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    J, is right, I always pray for God's guidance as I mount the pulpit. When I am there, I am totally dependent on how the Spirit chooses to work.
     
  5. PastorSBC1303

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    My way of doing things is continually evolving so to speak, but here is what I presently do:

    1. I normally preach in series, so I I know ahead of time what my preaching text is going to be. I generally deal with a paragraph at a time, which usually is 3-10 verses I would say. So generally before I ever start a series, I have sat down and went over the book or section and blocked out preaching divisions so each week I can pick right up without having to sit and work through exactly what I am preaching that week.

    2. I read the passage several times in various translations and in the original languages with helps at times.

    3. I block or sentence diagram the passage to get a better feel for what the author was trying to say.

    4. I put together an outline of what I believe this passage is saying. Generally I use 2 or 3 point outlines with little sub structure. Sub structure usually just confuses me and thus I figure I will end up confusing others. But on occasion, I will include sub structure.

    5. I make notes on what I see happening in the text and how it impacts meaning and application.

    6. I read commentaries and any other helps to gain a deeper understanding of the interpretation and application of the passage.

    7. I put together my manuscript. I rarely refer to the manuscript in the pulpit, but it helps me think through things in the study. I also use a color code system that helps me find things quickly if needed. I spend a lot of time thinking through application and application oriented questions to use during the message. I also try to use quality illustrations to shed light on the text and application.

    8. I spend time throughout the preparation praying through that text and about the preaching of that text.

    9. When I am finished with the manuscript I try to read through it atleast 3 times prior to preaching it, and I will make written notes and things that I may want to point out or emphasis in the pulpit.

    10. Go the pulpit and preach the Word for the glory of God.
     
  6. TCGreek

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    PastorSBC, I notice that we both take a similar approach to preaching and also I notice that we were both born the same year, a month apart. Good going!
     
  7. SBCPreacher

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    I normally preach through books of the Bible, and generally follow the same preparation that the others have mentioned. But I usually work from a manuscript. I do this because it keeps me from wandering all over the map and never getting to the main point (ever heard a sermon like that?) and that there are some things that need to be said a certain way and I don't want to mess them up.

    One of the other benefits of using a manuscript is that I have an older Japanese lady in my church, and english isn't her first language. In fact, I'm not sure it's her second either. At the end of the service I simply give her my manuscript. (And yes, I'm her all-time favorite preacher!!!)

    I am quite forgetful. As I heard one preacher say, I am so forgetful that I can hide my own Easter eggs.

    Edited to add: I was born October 1958. Do I fit in the club?
     
  8. TomVols

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    Ditto to what PastorSBC wrote. I'd like to spend 10 hours on a sermon, but I sometimes only get about 6 or 7. Those weeks, I usually repent :)

    I cannot stress enough the importance of long-range planning and book-by-book preaching as the norm. I am amused (and frustrated) at my brothers who spend so much time trying to find a message. :tear: They spend hours and hours every week trying to find a text or a sermon. There is a better way. I will also do topical series (worship, the purpose of the church, etc.) or smaller series (Ten Commandments, Sermon on the Mount), but I'm typically book-by-book based on the church needs.

    Reading of the text, getting the heart of the main thrust, is so often neglected. You have to first understand the original meaning. The text cannot mean what it never meant, is the old (and true) saying. I spend the most time getting the meaning of the text and the application of the text. When you preach to the same folks 3 times a week or more, you have to be careful with your language and phrasing, so a manuscript or full outline is key. However, be note-free if you aren't note-less. If you look at your notes more than 10% of the time, you probably aren't note free.
    I spend a lot of time making sure I'm communicating to people's ears, not their eyes. Too many outlines/manuscripts are guilty of being for the eyes and not the ears. I also outline in complete sentences and make the outlines application oriented. You aren't ready to preach until this is true.

    When I do the manuscript, I usually write the conclusion first. You have to know where you're going. My introduction is last and I try to spend some time here. You really need to arrest the listeners' attention within the first minute.

    Obviously, this is nuts and bolts stuff. The Holy Spirit must penetrate hearts, or we're wasting time. That's why expository preaching is so important. We have only so much power as the Word carries. If our sermons are not Bible-based, our sermons will be lifeless. If we truly exposit and apply the Word of God, there will be an anointing that we have no way else.
     
    #8 TomVols, May 22, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2007
  9. Hope of Glory

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    I will use a couple of different methods, depending on where we are. I've been preaching a couple of different series for a long time, so I'll talk about them both.

    In one, I've been doing a chronological study of the gospels. This means sometimes a text from one of the gospels, and sometimes more than one parallel passage. I have a very lengthy outline.

    For the individual sermon, sometimes I cover a section of the outline, simply commenting and teaching, and then ending and picking up in the same spot the next week. Sometimes, there's a specific point, verse, or word, and we'll cover that. Sometimes, there's a beginning point, with a specific anti-point, and then I'll fill in the middle.

    I used to preach from outline only, but after people started requesting transcripts, I wrote full texts.

    In the other series, we did a nine week study of the word "perishing". In those, I wrote a very, very long manuscript. Then, I would break it down into a 25 minute segment. The next week, I would do a brief review, then add some. (The average attention span for a human is 15 minutes, and these were very indepth, so the review is when people were learning the most, then some additional, and the following week's review would cement it.)

    Next we're doing the parables of Matthew 13. I expect it to take about 20 weeks to finish. I'll do it the same way.
     
  10. Hardsheller

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    Once I have a text and a general outline - and I usually always do because I preach through Books of the Bible - Expository sermons - it takes me a minimum of two hours to write a full manuscript for a 30-35 minute sermon. That does not include my study time.
     
  11. PastorSBC1303

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    Interesting stuff! :thumbs:
     
  12. pocadots1990

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    I applaud you who can spend about 10 hours per sermon.

    I usually preach through books of the Bible or on a particular topic. Find the main point to get across to the church then establish and outline.

    Being a bi-vocational pastor who preaches 4 times a week, I don't have the time to spend 10 hours on one sermon. It is usually about 2 - 3 hours per sermon on average. I am amazed though of how God uses his word no matter how long you study and prepare messages.

    I tell my congregation that when they have their toes stepped on once, I get it two to three times while preparing the sermong.
     
  13. rbell

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    I usually do a detailed working outline. Probably 25% of the time I do a full manuscript; if I do that, the sermon is completely memorized. I don't usually memorize working outlines; but I am thoroughly familiar with them.

    one sermon--probably 6-10 hours; but this is spread out over a long time. I'm doing research and background stuff for a series I'm doing in the fall: "What's the big deal...?" (10 commandments)

    I try and write out applications to the verses: I tend to cubbyhole them, when possible, along these lines:

    Looking up: How this relates to my walk with God.
    Looking in: How this relates to how I view myself; how I see me and deal with myself.
    Looking around: How this relates to my relationships that are near to me (family, friends, dating, fellow Christians).
    Looking out: How this relates to my witness to the world and my relationships with lost folks (and "unknown" folks).

    Of course, some fit multiple categories.
     
  14. Hope of Glory

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    I think the longest that I ever spent on one sermon was the time that I read two textbooks in relation to one word.

    However, the next time it came up, or something in the same books, I had already read the books. So, it was a lot of time, but it carried over until later.
     
  15. tinytim

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    I usually know 3 to 4 weeks ahead of what text I am going to use...

    I only preach one "sermon" a week..
    Wed is Bible study, so is Sunday evening. Both are very interactive in which I am teaching the church how to study the Bible.. we pick a text, and just have fun tearing it apart to learn from it.. some weeks we go 3-4 weeks on the same verse! The church loves this... and they are growing..

    But...
    This is my usual sermon building week....

    Monday (my usual day off, yeah right!! lol)- Pray, read, pray, re-read, pray re-read the text in my quiet time.
    Tuesday Start picking it apart by words, context, cultural influence, other scriptures...read commentaries..other sermons..Etc...
    Wednesday... devoted to Wed. night bible study... but in the back of my mind, looking for illustrations from real life...
    Thursday... Back to Sermon.... Outline the meat of the sermon... sometimes 3 (or more) pointer.. sometimes an acrostic... sometimes storyline if preaching on a biblical character..etc
    Friday... complete outline with opening illustration and closing applicational illustration.. I also start putting together my powerpoint slides based on my outline...
    Saturday... complete powerpoint with transitions, pictures, etc... Print out slides and go over with my son either Sat night, or early Sunday morning.. He runs my powerpoint while I preach away...
    Sunday... Go over sermon early... make sure everything works... go to church, and watch the Holy Spirit work...
    Sunday afternoon... work on Sunday night Bible Study...But usually I just bring up a topic or text, and I never know where the church will go with it.. so I don't prepare too much except to learn the defs of the words, context, etc... This keeps me on my toes! Thank God for e-sword.. I have it on the wall as we discuss the scriptures... so if we have a question I can't answer, we dig into it...

    Then on top of all this, I teach free guitar lessons at church, teach a Sunday School class, helping direct our association's youth camp this year, hospital visitations... phone calls, emails, plus get my entertainment from Baptistboard... plus all the other pastor duties that always need done!
     
  16. TCGreek

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    I just bought Dr. Steve J. Lawson's "The Expository Genius of John Calvin," and I think it has a lot of great pointers on sermon preparation.

    Of course you don't have to agree with Calvin's theology to read this book. I personally think it is a well done book and has great insights. Buy and enjoy!
     
  17. John of Japan

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    My approach is much simpler than you guys, since I'm in a cross-cultural church planting situation. My people need milk, not much meat. I'm just finishing up a series on the names of Christ, and plan to preach a series on the Christian life, especially some places my folk need to grow.

    I'm not real clear yet about the next series, but:

    (1) I'll pray about the needs of the people.
    (2) Choose a subject and determine the result needed in the lives of the believers.
    (3) Decide on a text. Most times I'll probably do a simple exegesis of the text for the folks, but often I'll do a topical message. It is often necessary to compare the Japanese translation to the originals and English to make sure I don't get blindsided by a Japanese rendering different from what I've memorized.
    (4) Do a simple outline in Japanese, usually 3 points but rarely a poem! The very short, 17 syllable Japanese haiku doesn't lend itself to sermon illustrations!
    (5) Make sure my Japanese terms are correct. Early in my ministry here I gave a long illustration on "the light of the world" about using lights in caves, only I said "badger" instead of "cave!" :tonofbricks:
    (6) Hit the illustration books and other sources for good illustrations. I use a lot of illustrations from recent Japanese news items and cultural trends, so it's important to keep up with the news.
     
  18. tinytim

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    John, do you preach in Japanese or use a translator?
    How fluent are you?
     
  19. Tom Bryant

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    I try to sermon plan 6 months out. I usually mix going through a book and dealing with issues. But I am always doing it expositionally.

    I think as you get older and have spent more time preparing messages that it gets easier, not because you just dust off old sermons, but because you have spent 20 plus years in the Word and the passages and meanings have already been studied. I always make certain that I am correct in my memories of the meanings of words.

    I spend different amounts of time for each kind of sermon. Sunday morning gets the biggest chunk of time, then Sunday night and finally Wednesday. This isn't because they are less important, but they are different styles of sermons for me. Our Sunday night services are around tables. I'll begin to talk about a passage and then have some questions for them to answer from around the table.

    Wednesday night is more verse by verse because we spend more time in prayer than on preaching.

    For Sunday AM, I spend 2 weeks writing it. The first week I do verse studies and just put it all down on the computer. The 2nd week is really writing the sermon.
     
  20. tinytim

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    My wife has a cousin that never prepares his sermons.

    He just gets up and preaches whatever comes to mind.

    How many here have done this?
    Would you encourage him to actually prepare sermons?
     

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