Delivering a sermon is like delivering a baby only to wake up and realize you are pregnant again on Monday. It is amazing how Sunday comes with such regularity! Every seven days people are counting on you to deliver a fresh and powerful message.
But, this routine can bring sermon-prep fatigue. Our minds are always engaged looking for the perfect illustration, turning the passage over-and-over in thought, trying to craft more memorable phrases, and making sure we get the exegesis done and done right. It can be exhausting and, if we aren’t careful, we will lose the joy in it.
Here are six simple ways I’ve found to help me preach better sermons and enjoy doing it:
Store everything in Evernote.
Evernote is a modern day filing cabinet for your illustrations and random sermon ideas you have at 2am. You can create notebooks for your major series topics you do each year and create tags for more specific topics. You don’t have to use Evernote but I haven’t found anything better. Reference your notebooks at the beginning of each series.
Watch your sermons on video.
It will be painful but you have to get over it. Watch yourself preach. If you can’t watch, listen to the recording. Find the annoying things you do and correct them. I figure if everyone else has to watch me preach it’s probably a good idea to see what it’s like on the other side of me.
Use a sermon template.
There is nothing more discouraging than opening a completely blank document each Monday. Whatever your typical outline looks like create a template to work from each week. When you see some of the work already done, it relieves a little of the prep pressure.
Prepare the major topics before a new sermon series begins.
Write out your major points, scripture references, and main topic for each week of a sermon series before the first week of the series. There is nothing like taking the pressure off when you show up Monday with a plan already for the upcoming sermon.
Get feedback and include others in the process.
Ask a few trusted people to give feedback of your message. Get them to answers questions like, What connected and what didn’t? What was powerful or what wasn’t clear?
Even better, include others in the process before you deliver the sermon. Ask for their thoughts on the topic or let them review your notes to give feedback.
Always include the Holy Spirit.
It should go without saying but I must mention it: all the preparation in the world doesn’t matter if God’s Spirit doesn’t breathe life on my message. On the other hand, I have noticed the more prepared I am the more freedom I sense in the message for God’s Spirit to move. Let Him breathe on it and make it come alive. As Jesus said,
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)
May God breathe life on our messages and give us the joy of preparing a sermon each week to reach people for Christ.
Every week we have a privilege. Remember to prepare and preach with this type of urgency:
Preach as if Jesus was crucified yesterday, rose from the dead today, and is returning tomorrow. Martin Luther
What are some ways or tools you use to help keep the joy in sermon prep and delivery?
Featured image is from Evernote.