In this series of posts, we have walked step-by-step through a proven-process to get you from a blank page to ready for Sunday in 7 Steps. In this final post we will look at the last three steps of writing a sermon.
There is a relatively huge mistake that a lot of pastors make on a routine basis: They preach their message without running the material by anyone first. This can be a huge problem because if you are the only one seeing your content you may miss something because we all have blindspots. You may think something makes perfect sense when it really doesn’t. You may think the points connect to the main idea when they really don’t. You may be on the right track but need a little guidance to make sure your message connects powerfully to your audience.
These reasons are why I suggest utilizing a preaching team. What is a preaching team? It is just a group of people that you select who help you build your message. They could help you by looking over what you’ve put together as I’m suggesting here. Or you could have a more robust preaching team that is with you in the initial stages of content development and anything in between. Or this can be as simple as showing what you’ve written to a trusted friend and talking them through your content and getting their thoughts on it. I put together this guide for preparing sermons in a team: The Preacher’s Guide to Preparing Sermons in a Team which will help you get started no matter how formal or informal you want to approach the feedback process.
No matter what you choose, I suggest at a minimum that you let someone check out your outline and walk them through it and ask them questions along the way. Especially if you are new to preaching, you’ll want to make sure you are not the only one seeing your content before you preach it.
We’re almost there! By this point you’ve worked through all the writing steps. Now it’s time to begin rehearsing your sermon. By “rehearsing” I mean practice delivering your message aloud. In the same way that preaching your message without seeking feedback is dangerous, preaching your message without rehearsing can be equally dangerous. The first time these words are coming out of your mouth in this way and in this order should NOT be in front of your listeners on Sunday. You should work through the rough parts, the bumpy transitions, the points that don’t connect once you say them aloud BEFORE you get up in front of people. I wrote an extensive guide you can find here: “Preach What You Practice – Why Rehearsing Is Essential To Great Sermon Delivery”. That guide explains why rehearsing is so important, how to rehearse, and how to evaluate your rehearsal and make changes to your message. Again, you can check that out here.
This is the most important step of your sermon writing process. I have made it the last step but it is really the first step, the second step, the third step… it is EVERY step. Meaning, you should pray through the entire process and lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance. I wrote a post on how our preparation and the Holy Spirit’s guidance work together in this process as we pray and seek his direction.
So there you have it, in this series of post we’ve seen the seven steps to go from blank page to ready for Sunday! Which steps are the biggest challenge for you? What are you stuck on?
I’d love to help you go deeper. If you want to discover more in-depth how to put these methods into practice, check out my new book Become A Preaching Ninja: Sharpen Your Skills, Hone Your Craft, Maximize Your Impact as a Preacher. It dives deeper into this topic and provides you with a systematic, streamlined approach to sermon prep and delivery that will save you time and help spur your listeners toward life-change.