Pastors, I know from experience that sermon preparation is seldom easy—and I don't want to add any stress to the process. Nevertheless, here are some questions I encourage you to ask as you prepare your sermons for this week:
- How's my quiet time this week? If it's not good, your sermon preparation could be happening in your own power. Your power won't do much.
- Have I started the preparation? If not, what's your plan? I don't argue for a set day to begin a sermon. I do argue, though, that late in the week provides little time for reflection and review.
- How well have I prepared in reading the text? I'm not suggesting that you need to memorize it, but it should not be that the first time you read it aloud is in the pulpit. Practice to read it well.
- How well do I know the text? How much background study we do always varies, but you need to know your text, its context and its teaching well. You don't want to be caught off-guard by a simple question after the sermon because you haven't studied well before it.
- Will I stand before my church with a cleansed heart? That is, do I have any unforsaken sin in my life? Perhaps, to ask the question more bluntly, am I a hypocrite?
- Will my family hold their head high while I preach? Or, do they know that I'm such a different person at home that I lack integrity in their eyes?
- Have I chosen illustrations that speak to my people, or do they only speak to me? For example, have I chosen only sports illustrations since that's what I love—even though much of my congregation won't understand them?
- How much time have I spent pouring the sermon into my heart? Some read the sermon multiple times. Others recite it in front of a mirror. Some work through an outline, but practice putting meat on it prior to preaching it. Few preachers who preach well review the sermon only once.
- Do I have anyone else who will review the outline or manuscript? Many of us don't have that person—or we prepare so late in the week that we have no time to get a review—but it seldom hurts to have an honest review ahead of time.
- How much time have I prayed over the sermon and its preparation? If we wait until the sermon's finished to ask God to bless it, we're turning to Him quite late in the process. Have an ongoing, running conversation with God as you prepare your sermon.
What other questions might you add?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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