Justin Buzzard: How I Prepare a Sermon

My three-stage plan for writing a message in 15 hours

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Several years ago as a staff pastor, I developed the following process for writing my sermons in three stages, requiring a total of 15 hours. I'm a church planter now, so this has become the ideal, subject to real-world demands.

I. Tilling the Soil: Study the Text, and Structure the Sermon

This stage requires 5 hours, and I do it on the Monday 13 days before I preach.

Study the text. Pause to pray over this sermon, then enjoy the creation process with a heart of faith. In recent weeks I've been jotting down ideas for this sermon on a prep sheet, but now is the official start of sermon prep. Record notes on a prep sheet. View sermon prep as a vital piece of my discipleship—Jesus has called me to preach for my own sanctification and joy. Beware of idolatry in my heart: What's ruling me as I prepare this sermon—Jesus and his gospel, or some idol of performance?

Note the immediate context of the text. Determine the text's genre and begin pestering the text with historical and literary ...

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Matthew Stephens

June 01, 2011  11:21pm

I've read this before (or at least a version of it) and it's been helpful. However, the 15-hour thing is totally unrealistic, at least for me. I probably spend 5 hours just translating the text and working through all the issues, a couple of hours getting the exegetical outline, 5 more reading through commentaries for background and critical issues, and then at least 5 distilling the big idea and developing the homiletical outline. The initial writing process itself easily takes 5 hours, and hunting down or developing illustrations is another 2 or 3. I rarely have time to rewrite, but would if I could. And I rarely have time to rehearse it out loud. If I could do all these things in less time, don't you know I would!

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Sharon Saulsby

May 30, 2011  8:49pm

I enjoyed this article very much. I have been taught in my expository preaching to have my "stew simmering" by saturday night. So, that means by Friday night I should have pulled it all together with the last read over before I go to bed on Saturday night. Because I know that I will need a good night sleep, should I take time out of my rest to get up earlier to read it agin on sunday morning?

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