Craig Groeschel at LifeChurch.tv does a great job of tackling a practical subject over a series of blog posts. Seeing as how I have spent most of this week getting ready to teach at the college bible study on Thursday and in big church on Sunday, I thought it might be fun to show you how I actually arrive at something to say. So over the next few days I’m going to post how I choose a passage, study that part of scripture, and then ultimately craft it into a sermon.
- I don’t have to do this every week. I can’t state that enough. When you only preach in this setting 3-5 times a year, there is a certain freedom and excitement that I experience. It’s not a grind for me. I usually have a couple of weeks notice to prepare for one sunday. While I do teach within our student ministry, most of that is based on a curriculum that we are using for a semester and so a lot of the initial legwork is already done for me. It doesn’t mean that I’m not studying or spending time preparing, but it is a different process than this.
- The practice of study isn’t only limited to preparing a sermon. Just the other day, I pulled out my commentaries for Genesis and Exodus and read through them for a while. I had been re-reading those stories at the beginning of Israel’s history and I simply wanted to better understand them. It wasn’t so I could craft a study around Joseph or a 10 week series on the 10 Commandments. Personal Study and Sermon Prep go hand-in-hand for me. In fact, each one makes the other better. Without personal study, my sermon skills would be seriously flawed, and likewise, without some outlet to share the knowledge, I would probably not be as disciplined in studying on my own. All that said: preparing for a sermon will never replace personal time studying the Bible.
- I am a hardcore novice at this. Over my four years at FBC, I have preached 10 or 11 times on a Sunday morning. In that same span, Kyle has spoken nearly 200 times. Repetition can seriously help you work out the kinks. As one enouraging/backhanded-compliment postcard I received said: “Your sermon this Sunday was so much better than your first one!”
And finally, this is the process that helps me best. I try and start with a broad view and then focus in until the truth becomes clear and tangible. Sometimes it works and other times I get to Saturday night wondering if I have anything worth saying the next day. Take what’s helpful, and leave the rest.