Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sermon preparation and delivery, part 1

A few people have asked me about my preaching practices lately-- specifically, how I prepare for preaching, and what I do while I'm actually preaching. I'm going to spend a few posts working through this.


The first thing you should know is that I primarily preach verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter through books, in an expository* manner. When I started my ministry at Hickory Withe Presbyterian Church, I began preaching through the book of Luke. We have taken a couple of breaks from Luke, and in those times I have preached a series on the cross and a series on the Lord's Supper. Even in those cases, nearly all of my sermons are expository.

Expository preaching through a book has the side benefit of having a clear picture of "what's next." There's little mystery about where I'll preach next week, if this week I finished out chapter eight. So that is one part of my preparation that I don't have to think about week-to-week.

Another thing that is important to get clear is that I work ahead. I've been slowly worked ahead further and further for a number of months now, and I'm getting close to being as ahead as I want to be (for the time being, at least). I got ahead by increments: the first week, I developed a rough outline (proposition and main points only) for that week's text as well as the next three weeks after it. The week after that, my rough outline was already done-- so I took that time to build in more detail on the other outlines. The third week I drafted rough outlines for the next month, and in the fourth I fleshed them out more, etc. Right now I have all my texts outlined through the middle of January, except my Advent series (and I have rough outlines for some of them).

Also: I work ahead by planning ahead. I have a general idea of what I will preach in 2009, even though I haven't begun to outline anything past January. I have planned breaks three times during the next year, and I'll probably finish Luke in early 2010. I'm keeping my options open, but after that I'll probably preach a portion of Genesis before returning to the New Testament to look at Acts (thereby rounding out Luke's writings.)

So, there are some preliminary ideas. Next time, I'll begin to talk about how I prepare.

*Bryan Chapell distinguished an expository sermon as one that takes its proposition, main points, and sub-points directly from the text.

No comments: