I've been making my sermons available for decades to help you prepare yours. My sermons will save you time, but they won't do your job for you.
I typically put about 20 hours of study into each message I teach. Most of the time, I study hundreds of verses for each sermon. While my work may save you some time, you still need to spend significant time crafting your message. There are no shortcuts to preaching the message God wants you to preach.
Here are four tips for how to use my sermons to help you prepare your own.
1. Make sure you set aside enough time. You need more than just time to prepare a message. More importantly, you need enough time to actually hear from God. There's no substitute for seeking God's voice. A good public speaker can share an engaging message, but a pastor must deliver the Word of God.
Before I preach, I get alone with God until I feel confident and passionate about my message. If I don't feel it, I forget it. If I'm not passionate about it, it will not move anyone else.
The Bible says to call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding. You need to get on your knees and allow the Holy Spirit to develop and deepen your convictions for your message. God's truth never changes, but you can't carbon copy a message I've taught because the needs of your church aren't the same as the needs of Saddleback. Still, God can take someone else's message and start a fire through it in your heart.
2. Listen to the MP3. Sermons are meant to be heard, not read. If you only read the transcript, you're missing out on the most important part of the message—the delivery.
How you say something is often just as important (and sometimes even more important) than what you say. When you just read the transcript, you miss out on my cadence and timing. You also miss the humor and the mood behind what I'm saying. That's what makes a sermon effective.
3. Use your own language. You can adapt my outline so it's something you would actually say. Many times, I will summarize part of the message with a memorable slogan. Some of those slogans may work for you, but some may not. Put it into your own words.
Reorder the points, and even add your own points. Make it your message. The same goes with the Scriptures in the outline. If God gives you a verse, put it in and take out one of mine. Listen to and obey what God is telling you.
4. Use your own illustrations and stories. Think of the outline as the skeleton on which you're going to put the meat. Naturally, you won't be able to share one of my stories as one of your own. Instead, do the hard work of painting a personal picture to drive home your point.
Tell a story that your congregation can relate to about your family, your small group, your childhood and even some of your mistakes. Your goal should be to share the message in the most personal, most powerful way possible.
My goal is to minister to you so you can minister to others.
Let me know how we can better serve your ministry. We're all on the same team.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times' bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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