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Timothy Keller on How He Prepares Sermons

The Keller method: Plan ahead. Read books. Keep a weekly schedule. Write several drafts. Pastor real people.

Preaching Today: Tell us about your planning process for preaching?

Timothy Keller: Every June I flesh out all of my sermon topics, titles, and texts for the coming year, and then I send them off to my music director and other associate preachers. During vacation and study time in the summer, I read books on the themes I'll be treating in the sermons during the coming year. At the end of the summer, my reading leads me to revise the list of topics and texts, and then we are good to go.

What does your weekly sermon preparation look like?

Ten days before the Sunday that I will preach a sermon, I spend three hours doing basic exegesis and outlining. The Friday morning before I preach the sermon, I spend five hours writing a first draft of the sermon. On Saturday morning I spend four hours writing a second draft. That Saturday night I spend another two to three hours writing a third draft. With each draft I shorten and streamline the message. I then get up very early on Sunday morning and spend ...

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