After preaching weekly for the last decade, here are my top three shockingly simple tips that will help you preach better sermons.
1. Begin To Prepare Early. At my church, we preach through Books of the Bible and plan out our sermon series one year in advance. This means that I already know what I will be preaching on for the next fifty two Sundays in the year. But even if you don’t plan that far ahead, you can still begin to prepare early. If you know you are scheduled to preach on a certain date, begin preparing and pouring over the text significantly ahead of the preaching date. Start snacking on the text and begin to take notes down of what the big ideas you will want to convey during your message. The earlier you begin to prepare, the better equipped you will be to navigate the content during your delivery.
2. Preach Your Sermon Before You Preach Your Sermon. My sermon preparation is not limited to just sitting in my office, with multiple research tabs open in my browser while furiously typing away in a word processing program. I try to formulate my ideas and permeate my conversations with what I will be preaching about. What does this practically look like?
During my small group, I will share a “teaser,” about a certain concept that I will be speaking about.
When I am conversing with my wife, I will ask her what she thinks about a certain way the text will be interpreted.
When meeting with someone for a discipleship session, I will again dip back into my research and apply a principle I will be teaching on into the conversation.
This is super helpful because you become comfortable with the content. You are then able to navigate the sermon using very little notes because you are saturated with the content from all your conversations.
3. Map Out Your Sermon Using Destinations, Not Points. Your sermon should begin somewhere, take the listeners to multiple destinations and bring them strategically to a destination that you have predetermined from the beginning. We need to become better story tellers. Most people will never remember any of your points you made in a sermon. But people will definitely remember stories and illustrations. When I prepare my sermons, I use a very simple structure.
I have an introduction where I present a problem that needs a resolution.
I then begin to visit a few destinations within my main body of the sermon where the problem I mentioned in the beginning gets even worse. This builds healthy tension.
Then, I go to the concluding destination where I explain the solution to the problem and how to practically apply to daily life what I was speaking about.
Keep in mind that if you don’t include the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and how Christ is the solution to all the problems people experience, you may have delivered a great talk but it was not a sermon.
When people leave from your sermon, they must experience a deep sense of resolve and a deep desire to change the way their thinking was, prior to the message that you delivered.
Your listeners are desperately in need of someone to give them clear directions on where they need to go. You as the guide, must illuminate for them with the power of the Holy Spirit the ultimate destination to which they need to get to.
Question: What other tips would you add that will help others preach better sermons?