How I Write A Sermon: Choosing The Passage

Yesterday, I started a series of posts about how I arrive at a sermon for Sunday morning.  I normally have 3-5 times a year that I preach on a Sunday, and this weekend happens to be one of those occasions.  Today I thought I would share some of my tips for choosing a passage of Scripture.

There are two choices right at the very beginning: will I be using an assigned passage or choosing one on my own?  I have had opportunities for both.  Last year, Kyle preached thorough the Gospels and so when it was my turn to fill-in, I continued the pattern.  That meant that I had 7 readings from the Dayword blog to choose from.  There was one other pre-Athens sermon that I used a pre-chosen passage from the Lectionary.  The Lectionary is a calendar of readings that is used by Episcopal, Catholic, Anglican, and some other faith traditions.  While having to use an assigned passage might seem limiting at first, there is a freedom to knowing well in advance what you will be studying.

When I have the ability to choose whatever Scripture I would like, I usually first ask myself two questions:

  • What have I been reading lately?
  • What has God been teaching me?

Most of the time, I preach on the answer to one or both of these questions.  In fact, if I can’t come up with a satisfactory answer to either of these, then I probably need to ask myself if I should stand up in front of a group and try to teach at all.  I believe that the best sermons are born well in advance of when they are delivered; this is why personal study is so important.  Teaching what I’m learning also raises my personal passion and engagement in the sermon.  If I have to teach on a prescribed topic, there is the chance that a sermon might seem forced and not from the heart.

Other sources of inspiration might include:

  • Books I’ve been reading
  • Movies
  • Other Sermons (not to copy or plagiarize – but sometimes hearing someone else illuminate Scripture can lead me to new thoughts and ideas)
  • News and Current Events
  • Blogs (check my blogroll – lots of good thinkers there)

Once you’ve settled on a text, next it’s time to do some research and study.  We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Josh said,

    How do you choose a passage for Weds? Personally I am a book guy, right now we are on 2 Peter.

    • 2

      We have done book studies before through John and Phillippians. Last year, we talked about the overall story of the Bible and tried to look at Scripture as a whole. A lot of times we go through a 4-6 week study from SimplyYouthMinistry or something similar that is a bit more topical.


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