One of my favorite things to do as a pastor is deliver a sermon that makes the Bible come alive and produces change for those hearing it. I know I have really done my homework when it makes me want to be more like Jesus and expands my heart and mind long before Sunday morning rolls around for me to speak to others. I guess the question is, “How do I make sure that this happens?”
Here’s some insight into my process for sermon prep, specifically for the delivery of the message.
-All of my notes need to be completed by Thursday night to be prepared for the bulletin. This gives me a good reason to plan well in advance and avoid a “Saturday Night Special.” I believe in allowing the Holy Spirit to direct my words, but I also know that he can speak to me on Monday just as well as he can on Saturday.
-Once my notes are in, I start working on my slide presentation. I find that this process, though tedious, does help me to better visualize what I will be talking about. Often an image will bring to mind an illustration I hadn’t thought about.
-On Friday and Saturday I let the message really sink in. I am rolling it around in my mind, looking to make sure that it is clear and that I can explain it well. By this point I feel ready to go, but there is one last thing: The rehearsal.
-On Saturday evening after the kids have gone to sleep I pop by the church and take the platform to preach my sermon to an empty house. This is when I can really see the fruit of my labor as well as my weak spots. I take notes for the times when I have inspiration, and change any areas that may be confusing, or are better left out. When I rehearse out loud it is much more effective for me than simply rehearsing it in my mind. Things sound a lot different when you say them out loud.
By the time I stand up on Sunday morning I am ready, and it gives me even more room to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me and give me inspiration on the fly. Preparation leads to great delivery.
Like a great steak, a sermon needs to be prepared, and then given a chance to rest. For a steak, the resting stage is when the juices get absorbed and the full flavor comes to the surface. This is similar for a sermon. I think you get the analogy.
Great, now I’m hungry…