7 Steps For Sermon Preparation

For a lot of people, pastors and laypeople alike, preaching  a sermon is terrifying business.  Many sermons are prepared in this way:

  1. The preacher decides what he wants to say
  2. The preacher then looks for texts that support what he wants to say
  3. Add in a few stories and jokes,
  4. Mix it all up with a lot of passion and persuasion, and out comes a sermon!

At least that’s what i used to do, and sadly, still see a lot of well-meaning Christians doing. But is such an approach to preaching the precious Word of God pleasing to Him? Is that the best we can do? In his second letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged the young man saying:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15 ESV)

First of all, Paul wanted Timothy to do his best. Preaching is hard work. So the preacher needs to work hard. Secondly, Paul urges Timothy to prepare and preach the word of truth, the Gospel, in the right way.

So, we know what we need to do (hard work and right preparation), but many of us struggle with how to do that. Which is the point of this series. I am going to show you 7 simple steps that will help you take a raw text and turn it into a well done sermon. These 7 steps on how to prepare a sermon will form a basic framework that you can use every time you need to preach (or even lead a bible study or do a personal devotion).

The goal of these tutorials is to produce preaching that is faithful:

  • to God’s commission to preach the gospel, making disciples of all nations
  • to the Holy Spirit’s leading, ensuring that we are in tune with what God wants to say to His people
  • to the true and original meaning of the text and
  • to the your audience’s situation. The gospel must be relevant to the present life circumstances of your hearers.

(adapted from the Langham Preaching Zimbabwe Level 1 Handbook)

What Is Expository Preaching?

This kind of preaching is what is called expository preaching. Instead of the preacher saying what he/she wants to say and adding texts that prove his/her own thoughts, in expository preaching we start by discovering what God wants to say to His people through his eternal word. In order to do this, you first need to discover the original meaning of the text or passage you are preaching on (what it meant to the people to whom it was first written) then going on to apply those same principles and truths to your listeners, in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them.

So, these are the 7 steps by which you will learn to prepare a sermon :

  1. Study the text
  2. Outline the Structure the text
  3. Find the big idea of the text
  4. Cross the purpose bridge
  5. Form the big idea of the sermon
  6. Develop the structure of the sermon
  7. And finally, add the content of the sermon

This diagram shows the process visually:

Sources

These 7 steps are adapted from following sources:

Scripture Sculpture, by Ramesh Richards

Level 1 Handbook, Langham Zimbabwe Preaching Seminars (in partnership with Langham Preaching International)

Biblical Preaching, by Haddon Robinson

These are the main sources of these tutorials. The principles and skills i learned from them radically changed my preaching and i strongly encourage you to read these resources directly to get a more detailed understanding on how to preach a sermon.

An easy way to visualize these 7 steps is to think of the scripture passage as a human body. In the same way that a person has flesh, a skeleton, and a heart, so does a passage and so does a sermon. The first three steps are about taking the text apart and discovering those three components (flesh, skeleton and heart). The last three steps are about using those same three components to build up your sermon.

Let’s get down to Step 1, Studying the Text!