Creating a sermon, for me, is a very taxing process. There have been times where I can write the outline of one in two hours and go about my day. Most of the time though I spend two hours every day forming an outline and then writing a manuscript. I have slowly gotten better with creating a system that works for me but it takes time, patience, and carefulness to not be so quick that I miss actually interpreting Scripture.
But what is one to do after writing the final words of the manuscript? How do I now prepare before the moment I preach.
[Disclaimer: This might not be helpful for or it could be very helpful. I’m merely describing what I do so please do not mistake me for saying all pastors should do this.]
Read It Over
When I type the final word in my sermon document I immediately read over the entire thing. It is not a real deep examination (that comes later) but I do read it to myself. I’m looking for glaring errors or issues with the flow of sermon. One of the prevalent issues I see during this reading is my want to “wax eloquent”. So I try to take two sentences and smash into a straight forward one.
I find that this is not an essential step but it helps later on when you-
Read Your Sermon Out Loud
After I print out my sermon Saturday night. I take a cheap red ink pen, sit at my desk, and read my manuscript out loud. Nothing beats hearing the text to determine if a section needs to fixed. I do this to anything I write (including this post). I also make communicative notes for myself with my pen. No, I don’t write when I need to yell. However, I do underline specific words I wish to emphasize to help communicate something. I also note when there should be a pause and even write in when a good time would be to take a drink. And yes, I do need to remind myself to drink some water while preaching.
My practice of writing a full manuscript and reading it out loud the night before have been truly helpful in my delivery of sermon but they are meaningless compared to-
Prayer. Prayer. Prayer.
I pray for me, for the congregation, for people who will hear the recording of the sermon, and so on. I’ll show up early on Sunday and pray to our Soverign Lord. It is here and at that moment that any anxiety or fear that I had over preaching is lifted.
I do all these things becuase it is the routine that works for me. I’m always curious what other people do in there sermon prep so feel free to tell me in the comments below. This has been a short and sweet” blog post.