Before I preach a sermon to others, I preach it first to myself. It’s another reason I love preaching.
To fully understand this, you have to peek inside how I go about sermon preparation. And, no, it doesn’t involve high speed downloads from Max Lucado or Mark Driscoll.
The first thing I do is settle on a Biblical text. Here at Mountainview, we tend to preach thematic series and I will be assigned my topic and maybe a text to go with it. Back when I did more preaching, I would often preach through books of the Bible and those books would provide my text for the weekend.
Once I have a text, I read it. I’m not kidding. I’ll read it in several different translations. I’ll look for key words, logical breaks, main ideas. Then I’ll start a Word document with the verses serving as headlines. As I do my research, I’ll drop notes under each of the main sections.
I’ll also start two other sections: application and illustration. These serve as my repository for how the verses will be applied to the audience and illuminated for them.
Next, I’ll draft what I call my MAIN POINT. That’s how I type it into my outline. The MAIN POINT is the big idea or one sentence that summarizes what my message is about. I first learned this from Fred Craddock who said if you can’t summarize your sermon in one sentence, it’s too confusing.
Finally, I’ll put it altogether in an outline. One page, Times New Roman font, size 12px, using the same margins I’ve used for nearly 20 years. I know if it fits on this sheet, the length will be between 25-30 minutes.
Here’s the great thing about doing all of this: it allows the truth of God’s word to move, convict, change, and challenge me. If it doesn’t do that to me, it’s more likely to be a presentation than a sermon.
It’s another reason I love preaching.