4 Methods for Selecting a Sermon Passage

Preparing a sermon regularly can become a burdensome task when you have to come up with a biblical passage to preach from on a weekly basis.

Methods Choose Sermon Passage

Well, there is an intentional approach that you can take in making this process easier.

It was a matter of time before I preached everything that I was comfortable with. During seminary years I’ve built a great database of content that made for good preaching.

However, as with everything else, the day comes when your reservoir runs low and you’re faced with having to find new content.

So how can you map-out your next series of sermons to preach? Consider trying these four methods. There are pros and cons to every approach. We will take into account each one.

1. Personal reading and study of Scripture.

Great preaching comes as a result of personal reading and study of the Bible. Typically, certain passages jump out at us as the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds and hearts on the theological truths found in them.

This method usually stirs great passion within the preacher because of being personally touched by the passage.

Pros. As a preacher you will be more excited to preach the sermon. Passion, energy, and body language tend to communicate stronger than your actual words. People will be listening.

Cons. Your personal bible study may not necessarily meet the needs of your audience. Yes, they met yours, but this doesn’t mean your audience will be where you are at.

Final thoughts. I have met preachers who refused opportunities to preach because they didn’t have something “fresh” that God revealed to them. Solely relying on this method will lead even the best preachers to a “dead end” at one point or another.

Mining for God’s word is inevitable. We must roll-up our sleeves and dig.

2. Needs of the congregation.

No one congregation deals with exactly the same issues. For example, people who live in a city with bustling professional lives have different needs from those who live out in the country and tackle life from a simpler angle. The struggles and temptations are also different.

Therefore, preparing a sermon and knowing that you audience needs this particular message is a great strategy. If you are invited as a guest speaker you can always ask the pastor what they feel their congregation needs to hear.

Pros. You will be able to reach more people with intentional topic selection based on people’s needs.

Cons. Large portions of Scripture tend to be left out. The result is a lopsided understanding of the Bible.

3. Book or theme series.

This approach seems to be popular for pastors who preach regularly at their church. Consider choosing a biblical theme like love, patience, or greed and create a 4-week series that addresses different aspects of this topic.

Another method is selecting a book of the Bible and start preaching through it systematically.

Pros. This enables the preacher to plan ahead on what they will preach, which reduces stress and allows the minister to focus on other pastoral responsibilities. Also, it creates excitement for those who are interested in a particular theme.

Cons. Those who are not interested in the theme may check out for the duration of the series. If preaching through a large book, it is possible for people to grow weary after some time. People’s immediate needs may be overlooked.

For example, if the theme is suffering, a four week topic on suffering may seem irrelevant to those who are experience no “suffering” whatsoever. I’m not saying that a subject is irrelevant to someone who is not going through it at the moment but it will be more difficult to hold the audience’s attention.

4. Church calendar and events.

Following major Christian holidays like Christmas, Easter, etc. can make for good benchmarks.

Events like “Missions month” or “Stewardship week” can help with outlining your preaching schedule.

Pros. You can keep these sermons in mind throughout the year as you prepare for your other sermons.

Cons. Since these events happen every year they can make for a difficult time in preaching the same theme year after year in a fresh way. I remember growing up hearing the same sermons from the same passages during holidays. It’s very easy for people to think, “I already heard this.”

Get creative and preach from a relevant passage that people will least expect. For example, preach a Christmas sermon from the Old Testament instead of the Gospels.

As you slowly come to the place where you do not think you have anything left to preach, consider using one of these four methods in resetting your mind and heart while planning the next sermon.

Question: Which of the four methods have you found great success in? Is there a method that I didn’t include that has worked greatly for you?