Sermon Prep

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Pastor David, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. Pastor David

    Pastor David
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    I suppose the methods ministers use to prepare a sermon are all as unique as the ministers themselves. But I thought I’d offer my own sermon prep method here, and encourage others to share their ideas, suggestions, and practices. Feel free to add a comment.

    Each Lord’s Day evening, even if it’s the last thing I do for the day, I select the text I hope to preach the following week. I will then spend the remainder of Sunday and all of Monday praying over and meditating over the selected passage. Usually by Tuesday I begin my study. I look for a main idea in the text in front of me - the primary thrust, if you will - for my message. I will probably have already established some notion of where I want to go with it from my prayer and meditation. But now I’m putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

    The study also involves examining particular words or phrases, consulting the immediate context, and cross-referencing. Likewise at this point, I will consult no less than four major commentators (more if I don’t feel I’ve received sufficient counsel from my standard references). One important aspect of consulting commentary I like to follow is that the commentary compliments my own study - it doesn’t replace it. I need to do the work. Every pastor needs to dig into the Word himself first, and then let others inform him of their opinions, no matter how learned. I may work on this step through most of Wednesday.

    Finally, I try to have a final draft of my message done on Thursday. This leaves me enough time to not feel pressured on the weekend to “throw something together” - unfortunately something I’ve known some ministers have done. I do review and pray over the sermon on Saturday evenings, and again before services on the Lord’s Day. Typically, the entire process of sermon prep requires a commitment of between six and eight hours. It is my hope that through this process the Lord has grown me, that He has helped me prepare the message He wants for His people, and that He will get all the glory for what’s been done.
     
  2. Tom Bryant

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    Good ideas! I am constantly asking other pastors how they prep for sermons.

    I do much like you, but I schedule sermons 6 months out because I do book studies with a few "stand alones" in between.

    Mondays are my big study day for both Sunday AM and PM. Wednesday mornings are more centered on Wednesday nights message. Then I go back on Thursday and Friday to finish up for Sunday.

    Because we do sermon notes for Sunday AM and Study questions for Sunday PM, they both have to be finished before Friday 10 AM so the secretary can get them into the bulletin.
     
  3. 4His_glory

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    This is a good idea. I appreciate you starting this thread.

    For me, my experience is a bit different form some of the others here in that I preach in a second language every week. I have found that preparation takes a bit longer when preaching in Spanish.

    I preach expository sermons for the most part, usually working through a book or portion of book. I start on Wednesday reading through the text first in Spanish, then in English using several different translations in both languages. I look for natural divisions and start praying and meditating on what the big idea of the text is. I then go to the originals looking up key words (I love using Kittle) and studying the relationship between the clauses (Logos software has a great tool for this).

    On Thursday I then outline the text using the arc method. This helps me isolate the big idea and discover the supporting arguments. I look at commentaries at this time to see if others are thinking along the same lines, this helps me stay on track. I like to have my preaching outline and big idea by the end of Thursday.

    On Friday I begin writing the manuscript of the sermon. This is especially important for me personally preaching in a foreign language because I am able to check grammar and wording. I finnish sometime on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I find this keeps everything fresh in my mind. Some time on Sunday afternoon I go through the manuscript with pen in hand highlighting key thoughts and marking out others (that may be worded incorrectly do to being a second language).

    The whole process takes me at least six to eight hours and sometimes more due to preaching in Spanish. As I improve in my Spanish I notice that my preparation time is easier, however I purposely do not like to preach unless I can put in 6 hours of study. Even then I feel overwhelmed by the text. My longing is that somehow I might add one drop of glory to the ocean God so justly deserves.

    Every Sunday before I preach I like to read this pray from "The Valley of Vision". It helps keep everything in perspective and reminds me of my need for humility and dependence on the Spirit.

    Anyhow. Great thread. Thank you for starting it.
     
  4. Pastor David

    Pastor David
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    Thanks for the comments! Valley of Visions is a tremdendous devotional.

    Tom, most of my sermons are expositional as well with a few topical messages "peppered" in here and there. I do some preliminary reading and preparing several weeks out for upcoming series, but this is how my week to week runs. Our Wednesday study is very devotional simply b/c I haven't the time to prepare a deeper study. And recently I've followed a book (like right now we're going through A.W. Pink's "Attributes of God") in our Sunday morning study hour. All in all, I feel the sermon is my most important commitment and I try to stay focused on my preparation there.
     
  5. 4His_glory

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    I agree. Its a treasure. If I were only permitted to own one book besides the Bible it would probably be my choice.

    Great idea and good book!:thumbsup:

    I could not agree more. Preaching out to be the centerpiece of cooperate worship. It sounds like you are committed to feeding the sheep.

    Dios le bendiga.
     
  6. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    Time was the great thief in my early years of ministry. We had to handwrite everything. There was nothing electronic in those days. I did have an old typewriter, but most preachers did not.

    We also seemed to have more on the go each day, with visitation, funerals, counselling and meetings.

    I spent an hour each morning for prayer at 5:am, followed by scripture reading and sermon thoughts. As I mentioned, pastors did everything in those days, from youth and children's meetings, Wednesday prayer and Bible study, youth meeting on Fridays. We also had community meetings requesting our attendance.

    This left Friday and Saturday to prepare Sunday morning Sunday School and morning message. We also fit weddings in on Saturday. Then Sunday afternoon was given over to prepare evening sermon.

    I was given to the 3-point sermon and loved alliteration, so each point was developed throughout the week. My day started a 5:am and ended about 2 or 3 am each day.

    Assistants were rare and expectations were high. I took a leave of absence of one month each year and used this to minister abroad, learn of activities in country and keep informed.

    With this regimine, constant Bible study and reading was a must. I even jotted notes about potential sermons as I drove from home to home..Yes, I did pull over to jot the notes...

    I should like to have had computer in those days. I think I could have cut week in half and had everything done by Wednesday.

    I am afraid that family life suffered greatly through those years and a loving, understanding wife was so valuable to me.

    My personal devotions were taken from Scripture Union Notes which often loaned themselves to parts of my sermon preparation.

    I didn't golf, but found the local golf course in each community and walked the 18 holes each Monday. This too was part of sermon preparation and meditation. I also brefriended one man in each congregation wth whom I could confide and gain thought about the congregation and comunity to establish needs. I always preached to needs whether real or conceived.

    The sermons followed both textual, topical and expository dictated by those needs.

    I may not be the best one to tell you how to write sermons, but I do thank God for my early schooling which developed my command of the English language and liquidity of public address. I shouldn't have survived all these years otherwise.

    Cheers, and blessing to all who have taken up the high calling of ministering to the people, whether they be saved or not. Just remember to lift the Saviour high, lay the sinner low and always remember that we are just sinners saved by His grace.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Mexdeaf

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    I tend to preach chapter by chapter, or verse by verse, depending upon the makeup of the particular chapter. I usually stay three or four weeks ahead of myself in my studies, although I don't start to put fingers to keyboard until Tuesday morning. I usually have my sermon off to the gentleman who sets up the PowerPoint presentation by Thursday afternoon, but if I am struggling with a particularly difficult subject it might not be done until Friday morning. I also from time to time revise (add to) my message on Sunday early a.m. (I am fond of saying God's messages are not done until folks are living them.)

    I spend from 7-8 hours on a sermon for Sunday a.m., occasionally more.

    Wednesday night's Bible study is more topical- right now we are going through our church's doctrinal statement because we have many members that do not know what it means to be a Baptist. Since our group is small it tends to be more of a Q&A time and we may cover several different subjects in a night- lat week we started on the subject of 'God the Father' and ended up discussing the difference between our God and Islam's which somehow lead to a discussion of Eschatology. That will certainly keep a preacher on his toes!
     
  8. Todd W. White

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    In my early years of pastoring, I decided very quickly that topical sermons didn't work for me - I ran out of topics quickly, and just couldn't seem to come up with any more.

    I opted, instead, to follow in the manner I was taught by the two pastors I had as an adult - one in Arkansas and one in Texas. They both preached expositionally through books of the Bible.

    Under my pastor in Arkansas, Cliff Palmer, I spent 10 years studying as he preached verse-by-verse through the Bible, teaching and making practical application as he went.

    My pastor in Texas was W. A. Criswell at the First Baptist Church in Dallas. I was there during the last years of his active ministry as the Pastor if the church, and was the last fellow he ordained before he died. He had spent years preaching through the Bible at the church in Dallas, and, by the time I was there, he had gone back and was repeating sermons from the past, so I really didn't learn as much as I think I would have if I'd have heard them when they were new. His messages were more proper, from a homiletical viewpoint, but Cliff Palmer's method of preaching taught me more.

    Of the two, I probably follow Cliff's style of preaching more, but, at funeral's, for some reason, I automatically follow Criswell's pattern.

    I preach expositionally in verse-by-verse fashion through Bible books in every service. On Sunday mornings, we're currently in Ephesians. Sunday evenings are in Colossians, and Wednesday evenings, we're in Genesis.

    When I read Bro. Jim's post, it sounds really familiar - my pastorates thusfar have been similar to his in many ways. The demands on my time, therefore, are great, and make it difficult to go as deeply into my personal study and preparation as I would like to. Those who pastor smaller churches may be able to relate.

    I will say that finding this discussion forum has helped me get my mind focused a little better - having to sharpen my pencil, as it were, has helped me in the pulpit, too.

    Thanks, friends.
     
  9. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    W.A. Criswell was quite the man. I have several of his studies done on book form.

    I also have several letters from him. He had a strange habit of returning one's letter with his remarks written in red ink beside each item.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. Todd W. White

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    I've got a lot of those letters, too - hand-written comments on the letter you sent him.

    Priceless to us now...
     
  11. 4His_glory

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    You preach to a deaf congregation no? I take it you sign from written notes? Just curious about this and the challenges you may face.

    Dios le bendiga
     
  12. 4His_glory

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    Which commentaries do you like? I find I have to purposely limit myself to just several otherwise I could be using a lot of time that could be spent in crafting the message itself.
     
  13. Todd W. White

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    4His_glory wrote:

    * Anything by W. A. Criswell is excellent.
    * I very much like Matthew Henry (the original edition, not the watered-down version).
    * B. H. Carroll's Interpretation Of The English Bible is good, except for his eschatology.
    * I like Oliver B. Greene, J. Vernon McGee, and John R. Rice - anything by them is also trustworthy.
    * I also like Alexander McLaren's Exposition of Holy Scripture - some really good stuff in there, too.
     
  14. Pastor David

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    1. Matthew Henry - very pastoral

    2. John Gill - very historical

    3. Matthew Poole - very devotional

    4. Jamison Fausset & Brown - technical and exegetical

    I feel these helps give me a well-rounded view of any given passage.
     
  15. 4His_glory

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    I have used Poole in the past.

    Usually I find myself going to:

    John Gill, Fausset and Brown, John Calvin, and Matthew Henry. Occasionally I take a look at the Bible Knowledge Commentary but it is rather limited.
     
  16. Pastor David

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    Calvin is my 5th choice. If I have time, or want a little more commentary, he's my next step. Of course, we don't see eye to eye on some matters, such as the doctrine of the church, baptism, etc. But I have also used Barclay, C.H Hodge, Lightfoot, and others where they seem their strongest.
     
  17. 4His_glory

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    I don´t agree with Calvin on those matters either of course. I have looked at Hodge, but have never read Lightfoot.

    When I am working through an entire book I like to read specific commentaries that deal with just that book. For example I am preaching through the Psalms right now, so I like to look at Spurgeon´s Treasury of David.
     

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