When it Comes to Preaching: Long-Term Prep

Preaching 2011 2When it comes to preaching, an area I’m asked about most often by young preachers and wanna-be pastors concerns preparation. Questions like, “How do you get a sermon ready?” “What kind of notes do you make?” “What do you take with you to the platform?” and “How far ahead do you study?” are examples of the kinds of questions I receive, especially from the guys in E3, First Family’s preaching lab.Here’s a peek into how and what I do when it comes to preparing and preaching (not that too many are wondering, but for the few who ask, here ya’ go).

Preparing Long-Term
Because I believe teaching and preaching through the Bible is best done book by book, with occasional topics inserted as needs arise and the Spirit leads, I’m usually about a year ahead when it comes to what series/book we will focus on next. Though we started Acts last fall (2012), we actually already decided that in 2011, and as I worked through it personally even back then, it was evident that a 2-year approach was best. Consequently, we divided up the book into teachable sections/parts around the 2 school years of 2012-13 and 2013-14. Dates were listed on a spreadsheet, with the textual sections in the next column. This is how we begin every series — way out in front date-wise, breaking up the focused book into teachable portions.

Of course, along the way, themes emerge and threads become visible. That’s when the series title is cemented. Sure, I sense a word or phrase that will capture the book way before we’re done breaking it apart, but by the time that has finished, that word or phrase is usually refined and confirmed. So all along the ‘prep’ journey I’m tying things together and fitting the pieces into place so that the series is more than a non-connected collection of random sermons, but rather jointed messages that point to the common theme of the book we’re investigating.

(Here’s a series I’m working on for the summer to show you this work in progress. The general thread of “kingdom” was  something we noticed even back when when we selected Acts, but the specifics took shape in late 2012, with artwork and subtitles coming early January 2012 from our Communications department.)

[Read Part 2 “When It Comes to Preaching: Short-Term Prep]

[Read Part 3 “When It Comes to Preaching: Platform and Delivery]

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