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For a long time I really struggled with sermon prep. I know a lot of people have a systematic approach to writing a sermon. I on the other hand do not. (I kinda do) It’s just never work for me. I think I have more of a creative approach. I can’t sit down and write a sermon like I’m writing a letter, oh how is wish!

So for me I’ve learned to utilize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses. So I created a systematic approach to my sermon preparation. It does not always work because many times my mind is BLANK. Oh how scary. I thought I would share how I create my sermon. Trust me, it’s more messy then you think.

1. I usually allocate 10 hours from beginning to end in order to study, write and practice the message.

2. 5 of those hours are dedicated for study. Now usually I study the topics in advance. But when I speak on a speciifc topic, I will take close to 5 hours to study and research the topic.

3. Then I will take another 2-3 hours to design the message in written form. At this point I usually have close to 15-20 pages of notes that I condense to 4-5 pages.

4. Then I take those 4-5 pages and create a simple outline. This will be the outline I take on stage and it consists of the key scriptures, idea’s and quotes. It helps me flow.

5. Finally I take roughly 2 hours to practice the message before I go live.

Some other thoughts:

  • I usually take 3 days to prepare. I break them up into 3 slots over those three days. 5, 3 & 2. This helps me mediate throughout the week. The final 2 hours usually will be early Sunday morning. I get to the office at 6 to pray and practice. Looks something like this: Wed 9-3 (w /lunch) study. Thurs: 9-12 and Sunday morning 6-8AM.
  • Typically I will listen to a few podcasts on the topic from various communicators when I workout or while I drive.
  • The message is always on my mind. I hate this part, it just sucks.
  • I always try to speak with freedom, yet structure. I do not look at notes. I memorize the flow. I think this gives me freedom to be natural not mechanical. But the preperation gives me focus.
  • Jeff and I share the speaking load. He speaks more then I do. But this keeps us fresh.
  • I do not want to constantly share the same “big-idea’s.” Some communicators rely on the same “ethos” when they speak. Once you heard one message-seems like you’ve heard them all. This is a tension, I don’t want an audience to feel like they know what I’m going to say before I say it. Most communicators who struggle with this issue don’t study well. Maybe they spend 3-4 hours on a message, so they constantly revert back to the same passages, stories and language.
  • The text is the center, without great stories you will lack passion and without proper preparation you will lack focus. This past sunday for me 🙂
  • Know and mediate on the text. I don’t use a lot of passages. It confuses the audience. Usually 3-4 tops. And I try to connect them.
  • I create a storyboard on paper. Then that storyboard becomes my flow.
  • I usually preach 40 minutes.
  • Everytime I preach I BEG the Holy Spirit to use me…I know I have nothing to say. When I preach I want the presence of God to be alive and real.
  • I always find pathways to grace yet deal with truth and reality.

Speaking is hard work. By no means do I consider myself an amazing speaker. Many campare me to Rob Bell, Andy Stanly, Tim Keller and Erwin McManus among others…OK, kidding. More then anything I want to be myself and be VERY VERY VERY real. Our generation needs authentic communicators who have passion and disicpline to deliver a word from God.


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