How to Prepare a Sermon: Part 1, Praying about Your Sermon

By DrBillNo Comments

Do you pray for your sermon?praying hands

If so, about what do you pray?  Do you ask God to give you wisdom on topic selection? Do you ask Him to use your sermon in the lives of your listeners? Do you pray that you won’t mess up?  Where does prayer for the sermon fit in your weekly sermon preparation?

The fact is that if we are engaged in a spiritual enterprise, then we need spiritual power. So the process of writing your sermon should have focused prayer built right into it, just as much as other factors in sermon preparation, like researching the text, or writing the introduction.  So where and how does prayer fit in our sermon preparation plans?  ”Oh, I pray all the time.”  Do you? But how, specifically is that prayer directly focused upon your sermon for the week.

I would love to hear your answers as to how you pray for, about, and in prep for your sermon. Leave a comment if you please.

Here are my thoughts on this topic:

  • Pray for wisdom on sermon text & topic selection, before you begin (whether that is Monday morning, or sooner if you plan ahead, or use a great sermon planning tool like SermonBase Message Planning Software.
  • Pray through the text as you read and prepare that God would speak to YOU in the text. That will lend lots of power and focus to your message.
  • Pray for the audience you will be speaking to, that their hearts will be receptive to God’s Word.
  • Pray for yourself in terms of your presentation that you will not detract from the message which God has for the audience.

So there are four areas of prayer for your sermon prep week. Hope that helps. God’s best to you this week as you step into the pulpit!

Yours for Great Preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

Preaching, Sermon Preparation

Sermon Tip: Focus

By DrBillNo Comments

laser beam

Laser or light bulb?

Some preachers only kind-of, sort-of, know what they want to say when they get in the pulpit.  And by that I am not saying that they don’t have a manuscript or notes.  What I mean by FOCUS is, has the message captured your heart?  Has God gripped your soul with what you want to say today to God’s people in God’s name?  Focus is when the Big Idea (the Proposition; the Sermon in a Sentence) has gripped your soul and it won’t let you go, until you let it out.

If the message has gripped your soul, you will have Focus.   When you have Focus, you have a powerful message.

What is the result of having Focus to your sermon?

1.  People will feel the power of your message upon THEIR hearts.

They will be gripped by it as well, and they will focus on you.  This is important.  I sit at the back of church when I am not preaching, and I see how the people at the back are really easily distracted.  It takes a powerful message with a strong focus to capture and keep their attention.  The further they sit from the pulpit, the more the Focus is important to maintain their attention.

2.  Your message will be delivered to their hearts like a laser, and not like a soft-white diffused fluorescent bulb.

People will feel like God is speaking to them about something specific.  God’s application is always very specific.  A focused message helps to deliver God’s truth into people’s hearts.

3.  Every point in your message will supplement your main point and sharpen the focus.

The Mains will sharpen, clarify, and strengthen what you have to say.  They will sharpen the Focus, not soften it.

How do you know if you don’t have Focus in your sermon?

1.  You will ramble!

If you don’t have anything specific to say, then, just about anything will do.  Rambling generalities never changed anyone’s life.

2.  You will try to make too many applications.

When a preacher is not sure of what s/he has to say, they often pull out the easy applications and start hitting people about the same old sins.  But Focus helps a sermon to point to one specific life change which God’s Word is calling them to do.

3.  You will lack passion.

The people will sense it, and you will feel it.  The right words may come out, but not with the same punch or power.  Focus adds passion.

How to get Focus in your sermon:

This is the tough part.  How can you make sure that week in and week out, you have clear Focus?  You need to have clearly written goals for your sermon.  I use SermonBase Message Planning Software® to help me frame up my goals for every single message.  I determine the main goal for the entire message.  (And please note, that this is NOT the same as the Big Idea or Proposition.)  Then I determine three sub-goals: Intellectual, Emotional, and Behavioral.  Asking these questions helps me to sharpen the Focus of my message.

Hope that helps!

Here’s to good preaching that grab’s people’s hearts in the name of Jesus!

Dr. Bill

SermonBase.com

HighPower Resources.com

General, Preaching, Sermon Tips

How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 8, Write the Conclusion

By DrBillNo Comments

Hey Up-and-Coming Preachers!

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and Part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2, Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries; Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition; Part 6, Develop the Mains; Part 7, Provide Supporting Material, and today, Part 8, “Write the Conclusion”.

WRITE THE CONCLUSIONbullseye

This is where you want to take it home. The conclusion must be powerful, personal, and memorable. This is where you touch the heart.

Now, please note that writing the Conclusion, actually comes before writing the Introduction. (We cover writing the Introduction in Part 9.) Why does the Conclusion get written before the Introduction? Because it is at the Conclusion that you bring the full force of the intent of your sermon into play. You have written your sermon, and worked on the goals (especially if you have SermonBase Message Planning Software), and now as you come to the Conclusion you want to provide the final application to people’s lives.  You need to know what that application is before you begin writing the Introduction to your sermon. If so, then you will be able to find an interesting story for your Intro which highlights the application you intend to bring in the Conclusion. So the Conclusion must come first.

The Conclusion to your message must be Powerful, Personal, and Memorable.  Let’s look at each of these:

POWERFUL

The Conclusion must touch the heart. It needs to punch through the final last gasping breaths of resistance which any heart still might be holding out against the demands of God’s Holy Word. The Conclusion is your chance to grab their heart and to have them bow in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ in their life. It is in the Conclusion that you seek to help “every knee to bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”. So it must be Powerful. This power can be communicated through many means. It could be the volume of your voice; it could be the passionate intensity of your demeanor; it could be the unique vocabulary reserved for the Conclusion; it could be a heart-touching illustration, or an example from your own life. There are many different means to power up your message at this point, and it should vary from week to week. But you need to use the Conclusion to express to every listener just how important this message is to their lives. The Conclusion must be powerful.

PERSONAL

While most of the sermon may be about Biblical history, characters, theology, truth, principles, etc., the Conclusion is eminently personal. In the Conclusion, you should be using the word “you” a lot. You should be talking to each person individually and personally. They must feel that you are addressing them individually as though no one else were in the room. They need to hear the voice of God through your voice during the Conclusion. It is here that you express to them your loving care and concern for them; that they would make the right choice; that they would get their life together; that they would experience the joy of obedience or walking with the Lord. The Conclusion must be personal.

MEMORABLE

If there is anything you want them to take home with them when this sermon is over, then include it in the Conclusion. You want the listeners to remember what you have said. Most Conclusions, then, will include a summary of your Main Points. It will also often include a restatement of your Proposition. You may have a memorable story to include in the Conclusion, if it brings the main idea home, and doesn’t distract. You as the preacher need to remember that when you say your final “Amen” for that service, that people will switch over to their next activity for Sunday, or start planning their week, or whatever. Your sermon needs to be Memorable so that it can break through that clutter throughout the week, with the powerful Word of God. Just as a side note, this is why I do not have our weekly announcements after the sermon. Some churches move the announcements to the end of the service, but in my mind, that absolutely destroys the entire intention of the sermon. Why would I work all week to bring a memorable word from God, and then immediately after having delivered it, to distract them with some other announcements about this or that church event?

The Conclusion is an important part of your message, and it should be planned out carefully. It must summarize and concentrate the entire content of your sermon in one final, powerful, personal, memorable punch. Note please, that the Conclusion is not the place to introduce any new material. Do not distract from the main proposition and mains of your sermon at this point. Be sure to focus and apply what you have already said, not to introduce an entirely new concept or idea. Anything you share in your Conclusion, should already be either directly or indirectly referenced in the rest of your sermon.

Once your Conclusion is written, you can then get to work on the Introduction, which will be the focus of our next part.

Yours for Great Preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

General, Sermon Preparation

Power of Positive Preacher Part 1

By Gladys Perez-NejudneNo Comments

Power of Positive Preacher Part 1
 
by Thomas Garrity
 
What is the “Power” of a preacher?
What is being positive?
What is a preacher?
All three of these questions are important to know, however let us go through them one at a time. The hope is that we will all learn what is needed to learn in getting the answers.
 
First we must remember where we are to look in learning what is right.
 
“2Ti 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2Ti 3:17 “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”.
 
Within these words from God you will find the answers to all three questions above.But let us work out the Power first. We should know that God gives mankind power example to use: John 19:10 “Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me(talking to Jesus)? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee”?
 
“John 19:11 “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:”
 
So now we understand where power comes from, then what is this Power of a positive preacher? The answer is both simple and from GOD. The first thing a preacher becomes is a doer, the second is a hearer or vice versa. Example:Jas 1:23 “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:” Jas 1:24 “For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” Point in case, when a pastor who not only hears but also does will be living out the POWER that GOD gives. Think of it like this, God inspires ALL scriptures that makes them profitable and their for MAKING the man of God perfect unto What? ALL GOOD WORKS.
 
The Truth is that if your preacher is living out what he is preaching out, you will see a move on people due to the POWER that GOD gives for the preachers obedience. The other side to this Truth is, if you have a preacher only doing one out of the two requirements you will find him saying “do as i say not as i do” or the other will do everything, not allowing GOD’s power to do “all good works” for your life. This is one reason why I myself study to shew myself approved. 2Ti 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
 
If i leave my studies in the hands of a preacher that doesn’t (hear and do) then who is leading him and me?
 
God gives mankind knowledge, wisdom and understanding right? Pro 2:6 “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” OK then. Now instruction in righteousness also come from GOD as we have learned here. Therefore God has given the power to the saints for the ministries Eph 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” Eph 4:12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
 
All these listed in verse 11 are doers of the word not hearers only. When a preacher hears from God and acts on it he is fulfilling verse 12. Which is, helping others to become (perfecting of the saints), growing people to do the ministry (work) and also acknowledging GOD to be GOD (edifying of the body of Christ). There is Power in a positive preacher! So now i hope you have a better understanding of the POWER of a preacher.
 
All scripture is quoted KJV

Preaching

The Big Idea

By DrBillNo Comments

HI All,lightbulb

The Big Idea of the sermon is technically called “the Proposition”.  It is a summary of your entire sermon in one sentence.  Some call it “the sermon in a sentence.”

Getting accurate on the Proposition is the most important step you can do as you begin work on your sermon.  Accurately capturing all you have to say in a single sentence will propel you forward to a successful sermon.  Arriving at the Proposition can be some of the hardest work you do in your sermon preparation.  It may take a couple of days to really nail it; you may have to precede it first with exegetical study of the passage, and an understanding of the culture into which the passage speaks.

But once you have the Big Idea, the Proposition, the Sermon in a Sentence, you are almost half-way there!

A finely crafted Proposition can deliver a powerful punch.

Sermon Example:  Ezekiel 18:1 – 30

This is a very long passage and argument from the Lord God to the people of Israel.  It is difficult enough to explain to adults, but what about mid-schoolers?  How would you explain this passage to teens, ages 12-14??  Nathan Miller of Brooklyn Park EFC taught this passage to just such an age group by really nailing the sermon in a sentence.  Here’s his Proposition, Big Idea, or Sermon in a Sentence for Ezekiel 18:

“Your soul is your responsibility.”

That captures it really well.

Once you have the Proposition, you are on your way to putting together a good sermon. Work hard at it, and you – but especially your people – will be rewarded.

For great preaching,

Dr. Bill

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

Preaching, Proposition, Sermon Preparation, Sermon Tips

Sermon Symmetry

By DrBillNo Comments

Symmetry is a description of how you write your Main Points.  ”Symmetry” means “balanced proportions”.  If your sermon displays symmetry, it’s main points will be balanced and proportionate.  That is, each main point will seem to have an equal and valuable relationship with all of the other main points.  No main point will dominate, either in terms of importance, impact, or the amount of time you spend on it.butterfly

The three main benefits of sermon symmetry are:

1.  Understandable

Main Points with symmetry, make your sermon easy to follow and understand.

2.  Memorable

It is easy to remember a sermon with has symmetry flow.  I’m writing this blog from memory, based on the sermon symmetry I heard last night.

3.  Beautiful

Main Points with symmetry, are a thing of beauty.  (Note how the three points of this blog also display symmetry.)

Sermon Example:  Take a look at this sermon which I just listened to last night from Dr. John Crocker at Crossroads Church in Albert Lea, MN:

He was speaking on 2 Peter 1:1-12.  His mains were:

  1. Establish Your Identity  (2 Peter 1:1-4)
  2. Exercise Your Responsibility  (2 Peter 1:5-8)
  3. Erase Your Uncertainty  (2 Peter 1:9-12)

This sermon contains symmetry.  Each main is a command verb (Establish, Exercise, Erase). Each main begins with the letter “E”.  Each main is focused on You.  Each key word at the end has a symmetry as well, with each one ending with a “-ty” ending.

This is not just word play.  This gives a sermon memorable power and greater impact in people’s lives.

Yours for better preaching,

Dr. Bill

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

Preaching, Sermon Tips, Sermons

The Importance of Transitions

By DrBillNo Comments

It’s all about Flow

The difference between a sermon with “flow” and a sermon that feels chunky and disjointed is the word “transitions”. The ‘transitional statement’ is the statement which alerts your listeners that you are now moving the logic of the sermon forward in some way. It may be words like “so then”, or “therefore”, or “because of this we can see”. It could even be “in summary”. The main thing is that you give your listeners a verbal clue that something new is happening. You are letting them know that they should listen closely because something new is about to be entered into the content or logic of the sermon.

When transitions are executed effectively the sermon just feels like it is moving along nicely, with a good flow. People are moved gradually from point to point until you bring them inexorably to the conclusion and application which you have in mind for them. They may not even be aware of the progression towards and ultimate climax but they realize once they are there that they have arrived in a perfectly logical and commonsense manner. The whole sermon just “makes sense” as you have moved them from the content of the text to its ultimate conclusion upon their lives.

An Example of a Transitional Statement

If transitional statements are not well executed then the listeners will find themselves listening to a certain point, and asking, “How did we get here?” For example, you may have a three-point sermon with the proposition, “God has shown His love for you.” Then your mains would be: 1. He created you; 2. He cares for you; 3. He called you to Himself. If you just jump from point to point, when you are done with point number one, you would just say, “2. He cares for you” without any introduction. After going through all your supporting material in point #1, the listener is jerked back to the Mains without any warning.

On the other hand, a helpful transitional statement would be added to the mid-point at the end of your first Main, and just before your second Main Point:  “Not only has God shown His love for you by creating you, but He also shows His love to you, secondly, by caring for you. So my second point is that God Cares for You.” Or, just before the third Main Point, you would say something like, “Not only has God shown His love for you by creating you, and by caring for you. But third, He Called You.” See how that feels much smoother? You are taking them on a quick trackback through the Mains of the sermon, before you move onto the next Main Point.

The Power of Flow

Do not underestimate the power of a good transition to keep your sermon flowing, and to give the listener verbal warnings of “sudden turns” or new topics ahead. Transitions can help you to be a more polished presenter of the Word of God.

Yours for great preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

www.SermonBase.com

www.HighPowerResources.com

General, Preaching, Sermon Preparation

How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 7, Provide Supporting Material

By DrBillNo Comments

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and Part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2, Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries; Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition; Part 6, Develop the Mains.  Today is Part 7, “Provide Supporting Material”.

PROVIDE SUPPORTING MATERIALGreek building with columns

This is the main content of your message which supports each of your Mains. It is here that you are teaching the Scriptures, explaining, illustrating, applying, comparing, contrasting, etc., all to make a point. If you do a good job of studying and researching in preparation for your sermon, then you will have some very quality content to provide to your listeners.

So once you have established your Proposition, and your Main Points, what really constitutes the bulk of the supporting material? Some of this would be:

  • Explanations — For example, explaining the meaning of difficult Biblical phrases; original language nuances; aspects of OT semitic culture; socio-political realities of the Roman era; historical background;  – all with the express purpose of a better understanding of the Biblical passage at hand.
  • Illustrations – stories from one’s own life, or the life of others; testimonies; anecdotes; quotations; contemporary parallels; examples from literature, movies, or songs, etc. – all with the express purpose of a better understanding of the Biblical passage at hand.
  • Comparisons — locating other Biblical passages that explain the passage at hand; parallels; related passages, ideas or themes; – all with the express purpose of a better understanding of the Biblical passage at hand.
  • Contrasts – sometimes the best way to explain a Biblical passage is by telling the listeners what it does NOT mean. If a passage of Scripture sounds like it is telling you to do something that seems to contradict something else in Scripture, you have to lay the two passages side-by-side, and contrast them with each other, so that a true understanding can be reached.  The goal, after all, is better understanding of the Biblical passage at hand.
  • Applications – then, of course, the point of most passages is so that we can obey God, so application will necessarily have to come into play at some point. Some people feel that one should provide application after each main point, while others feel that it should be delayed until the Conclusion. It really depends on the passage itself, but I tend to make application an inherent point of the entire message. That is, I will often entitle a message something about “How to…”, and then include a verbal command in each Main Point. But it is really up to you as you feel led by God.

Why is application important? Because Jesus said in the Great Commission that we should be about “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus wants us to teach them to “obey”, not just to “know”. We are not in the business of just tickling ears with fanciful ideas which people love to hear. Jesus wants us to help people to obey Him as a result of what they have learned.

If you want to really “teach” the Word, and not just “exhort” the Word, then you will need substantive supporting material which really helps to explain the passage to your people in a more understandable way. This will take research and study. Get as much learning as you can about the Word, so that you can be a workman who correctly interprets and applies the Word of Truth.

Blessings on you as you open and teach God’s Word! In Part 8 of this study we will look at writing the Conclusion, which is a really important part of the message preparation process. (It actually comes before the Introduction.)

Yours for great preaching!

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

General, Sermon Preparation

How To Prepare A Sermon: Part 5, Arrive at the Proposition

By DrBillNo Comments

Hi All, especially up-and-coming preachers!light shining down

We are working on our ten-part series on How to Prepare a Sermon.  We’ve already given you all ten steps of sermon preparation, and part 1, Praying about your Sermon; Part 2, Textual vs. Topical; Part 3,Study the Passage; Part 4, Read the Commentaries.  Now, we need to talk about the Proposition.

This is key. The better you do here, the easier the rest of the sermon will fall into place. What is the Proposition? The Proposition is the entire message squeezed into one sentence. It is the ‘sermon in a sentence’; also known as “the Big Idea”. And please note that I said that you “arrive at the proposition”. You don’t create the main idea of the passage; you discover it. You don’t go to it; it comes to you. It IS the message. Then the Mains and supporting material are just unpacking that single idea.

The Proposition is the sermon in a sentence. Sound ridiculous to think you can pack an entire sermon into a sentence? If you cannot say what you intend to say in one sentence, then you do not have a clear idea of what you are talking about. Now, obviously all of the depth of meaning, the expanded content, and the specific application cannot be included in that single sentence; else you would have quite the run-on sentence. But yet, a well-designed proposition captures the essence of the sermon in its grasp.

The Proposition, or Big Idea, or Sermon in a Sentence is something you “arrive at”, you don’t create it. It comes to you as you study God’s Word. God the Holy Spirit reveals it to you, and then you write it out. The Word of God has a message for you and for your congregation. Because the Word is “living and active, and sharper than a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), it has a very specific application for your unique church situation. Discover it, and you have discovered the Big Idea for your sermon. How do you know if you have arrived at it? If someone says “give me a quick summary of your sermon”, you can actually give a quick summary, in just a sentence.

Once you have the Proposition, then the Main Points support and explain it more fully. Main points will not add anything new to the big idea of your sermon; they will merely expand upon concepts or themes which are inherent in your Proposition.

Once you have the Proposition, you have a significant part of your sermon already done. Now please note that we are at point 5 in your sermon preparation, and you have just arrived at the Proposition. So you have done quite a bit of research and study already. But once you get the Proposition down, the rest of the sermon will come together relatively quickly, because you already know everything you need to say. You just have to unpack it.

So that is the Proposition. You can read more about the Big Idea here if you like. We are half-way through the process of writing a sermon. Stick around for the rest of the series.

Exercise: Select a passage of Scripture, anywhere from four to ten verses; read it through several times; study it; then try to express its meaning in one sentence.

God’s best to you as you prepare to teach God’s Word!

Dr. Bill Miller

SermonBase.com

HighPowerResources.com

General, Proposition, Sermon Preparation
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