I was given, and have spoken about, the opportunity to preach our AM service earlier this month. You can find that sermon HERE. I have received some pretty positive feedback and thought I would talk about how I go about my sermon prep. Now understand that I do not think I have some expertise in this quite the opposite. I have no degree and very little experience in the pulpit but I have had years of teaching experience as a Youth Minister/Pastor
1. Bathe it all in Prayer: I find that it is important not only to pray during the process of preparing a sermon but I take an extra step. The night prior to my preaching, after everyone in the house has gone to bed, I go to the church. Before I do anything I go to the altar and stay still and quiet, then after awhile I will begin to speak to God. I will tell Him what my heart has been burdened with and ask Him to remove anything that is of me and not of Him. I will pray for people who I think He would have hear this message or people I think He is preparing for service in our ministry. I will walk around the church and as God lays certain people on my heart I will pray for them specifically. I will touch every seat at least once. I will touch the instruments and pray over them as well as the sound board. At the end I will return to the altar and be silent.
2. A Message that Educates: I believe that many people in the church take the Scripture at surface level and so whenever I preach I try to peel back layers of Scripture taking it into context and revealing things about the culture and symbolism of the time. As I did last time I tried to get people to identify with the characters in the passage even if very little detail is provided sometimes if we dwell and think about what was said it can work wonders.
3 A Message that Encourages: Now this is tricky because I know I will not encourage everyone. The ones I seek to encourage are the ones in the trenches. The ones that see the ministry for what it really is. Many times that will be simply to preach a message that dwells on the next point. Unfortunately the people who need encouragement the least wnat it the most, but I feel like a congregation in the traditional declining church needs more conviction and less stroking.
4. A Message that Convicts: Let’s be honest, our world is in hellish shape. People, church people that is, need to wake up. The do not need to be told how great they are doing they need to be told it is all going to be alright. Their ears have been tickled for far to long and I follow the example of Christ and lay heavy words on the religious leaders of our time. Through these words the entrenched ministering Christians will find confirmation of what they fel and want but cannot or are to afraid to express. I had a man stop me as everyone was leaving and tell me that I made a bunch of folks mad and that that what he thought a preacher should do. And I think he was spot on. People do not like to be called out and they do not like to feel broken or imperfect and sometimes when that illusion or delusion is broken they get upset.
I am unapologetic about what I preach. Sometimes I am afraid but I try my best to listen to God. I added a story and removed a point from my sermon at the last minute simply because I thought it was too much from me and not enough from God. It is a process. I am fine tuning it. Maybe someday I will be able to preach a good one!!