I am beginning some sermon prep today for next Sunday, June 10th. Arlington Work Camp begins on Sunday and runs through Wednesday night. So, needless to say, I will not get much preparation time next week.
I set up a template in Word which I use to work through my research, study, preparation and message. I created the template by combining the things I like best from Ken Daivs’ “How to Speak to Youth… and Keep Them Awake at the Same Time” and Andy Stanley’s “Communicating for a Change.” Both are must reads for speakers and preachers.
I. Main Idea: Summarize your sermon in a sentence. I shoot for a memorable 140 characters or less statement. In other words if you can’t fit it on Twitter you are not ready to preach it. I put this first because I the value I place on it. Although, this statement is usually not developed until later in the process.
II. Passage: I space out the passage verse by verse. In the space below I make notes from commentaries and record thoughts. I try to fill up this page. I print this out on an 11*17 sheet of paper so I will have plenty of room to write. I make sure I write down references so I can go back if I need them.
- Know Where You Are Going: Five questions you must be able to answer before you step up on stage.
- What do they need to know?
- Why do they need to know it?
- What do they need to do?
- Why do they need to do it?
- How can I help them remember?
III. Message: I use a storyboard with these five headings to work through the message.
- Me: Building a connection with the audience.
- We: Creating a tension which must be resolved.
- God: Resolving the tension through the Word.
- You: When the audience walks out of the room, what do they need to go do.
- We: Paint them a picture of what it would look like if we changed.
IV. Transcript: From this point, I write out my transcript. I try to write just as if I were talking on stage. I want it to be conversational. Just FYI this practice creates bad habits for academic writing but it really helps with my preparation. Once I have a transcript I move on to the process of internalizing the message. The more study and preparation you have put in at this point the easier internalizing the message is. I will try to read through the message 7 times before I preach it. The first 4 times I focus on memorizing. I usually do this sitting down. This is the point I will make any changes, and word smith. The next three times I think through non-verbal communication, tempo, speed and voice. Where are the parts I can move fast because I am just giving information? Where do I need to slow down and give time for reflection? You can run a good sermon by talking.
V. Rehearse: At this point I typically have a really good grasp on the message so I will rehearse a time or two. I use a basic outline which I will use on Sunday. I run through everything and make sure I feel comfortable. At this point, I’m ready to go.
VI. Prayer: I know someone will read this and ask where is prayer in your preparation? Well, it is through the entire process. Prayer must be central from the beginning of your study and preparation to stepping of stage and allowing the spirit to move through your words.