The following is a general outline of the process I follow when preparing sermons:
Sermon Preparation Process
** Prayer throughout **
- Understanding the text:
- Read the text including its broader context.
- Read the passage slowly, meditatively, and prayerfully – Compile notes.
- Exegete and interpret – Look at text in original language; look at various translations; attend to text critical matters, grammar, syntax, word studies, structure, purpose, relevant parallel passages, theological analysis, etc.
- Consider the passage’s relationship to redemptive history, the Gospel, Christ, and mission.
- Anticipate sermon development: formulate passage’s purpose; develop initial conception of sermon structure; consider illustrations and applications.
- Use resources (e.g., commentaries, sermons). Compile notes on key observations.
- Sermon construction:
- Determine main point/purpose.
- Develop sermon structure.
- Fill-in sermon substance: introduction, prayers, explanations, illustrations, and applications, and conclusion.
- Final matters:
- Refine/complete sermon.
- Review sermon.
- Preach the sermon to yourself.
- Pray for sermon delivery and effect.
The following is my personal passage worksheet when preparing a sermon on passage.
Structure: How is this passage organized to communicate its emphasis and make a point (i.e., how do all the parts work together as a whole and fit together to communicate a unified thought or argument)?
Context: How do the context(s) inform or illuminate your understanding of this passage?[*]
(a) Immediate literary context—sections immediately before and after.
(b) Macro-literary context—placement in and contribution to the whole book.
(c) Historical context—known historical circumstances surrounding the contents of the passage.
(d) Intended context—the situation of the original audience into which this was written and would have been received.
(e) Biblical context—allusions or references to other Biblical material.
(f) Redemptive-historical context—location in the storyline of scripture.
Claim: What is the author’s controlling thought in this passage and point of which he intends to persuade his audience?
Aim: How does the author intend this passage to function in the lives of his audience? What is the desired effect this claim is meant to have on them? What is the intended response?
Gospel: How does the claim of this passage direct us to Christ and relate to the gospel event? What part(s) of the gospel are in view here?
Conclusion: What is the claim of this passage as it comes to bear on us through Christ and in light of our place redemptive history?
Response: What does it look like for us to respond to this claim and embody the aim of this passage? What would it look like for today’s audience to grow in and live out (implement; apply) the truths of this passage?
Evangelistic: How might you present the truths of this passage to a non-believer with them aim of showing them their need for salvation and persuading them to trust in Christ?
Mission: How does this passage fit into God’s plan of working redemption and renewal through the local church? In other words, how does this passage equip the church for its mission?
Outline: How might you convey the claim of this passage in a way that reflects its structure and emphasis and captures its tone?
The following is my personal check-list I developed for consultation when preparing sermons:
- True to the passage’s…
- Authorial intent?
- Passage structure or form?
- Context and book?
- Aim (affections, belief, trust, obedience, thoughts, actions, etc.)?
- Biblical theology:
- Redemptive-historical context considered?
- Relationship to Christ?
- Passage interpreted in light of the Gospel?
- Inspiring vision of God set forth?
- Sermon quality:
- Main point—clear and frequently stated?
- Well organized—clear and helpful structure?
- Simple—avoids unnecessary complexity?
Selective—on what will you choose to focus?
- Brief—the “less is more” principle; distinguish what is important vs. what is merely interesting?
Perspective—don’t miss the “forest for the trees” or the “trees for the forest.”
- Concise—high quality to quantity ratio?
- Use of pithy, memorable phrases?
- Helpful illustrations, introduction, and conclusion?
- Practical? Down to earth? Thoughtful, engaging, quality applications
- Audience consideration:
- Sermon oriented specifically to this audience?
- Clear, understandable language?
- Clear explanations of theological issues?
- Answers given to questions the average person may have of the text?
- Audience’s translation(s) considered?
- Conscientious of nonbelievers? Gospel presented?