Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pinch hitting for Tracy Fitzgerald--leading a class at The Buzz tonight on sermon preparation

Tracy Fitzgerald puts a lot of prep work into leading a class at First Lutheran Community Church. He probably puts me to shame for his level of preparation. He was called away to a family emergency, so I will be stepping into his class on Bible history tonight. Our prayers are with him and his family.

I have a host of topics I could address in 75 minutes for the growth of the multitudes that will attend hoping to see Tracy--but I'm going to be a little selfish. The ideal outcome of this class is that I will gain some insights for my sermon, while also giving the class some background on what goes into sermon preparation (at least my sermon preparation). My goal is that Christ is preached and that the hearer and preacher are connected to God and one another through that preaching. I believe in making a connection--it was a big reason why I began blogging and also abandoned manuscripts in my preparation. Here is an outline of my process, though in no particular order--and each sermon doesn't follow each step.

1. Prayer
2. Read the text (we're going to be reading from Jeremiah 3)
3. Read the context of the Bible passage
4. Consult original languages
5. Thematic considerations
6. What's going on in the world/country/state/community
7. What's going on in the congregation
8. Consult Biblical commentaries
9. Consult social sciences
10. Get together with other preachers
11. Blog
12. Pray
13. Get at least 5 hours of sleep on Saturday night
14. Don't eat too close to preaching time
15. Consult theological writings
16. Share ideas with my wife
17. Is a children's sermon possible?
18. Use of props, images, photos, dramas, movie clips
19. Use of stories (have I previously used that story?)
20. Pray
21. Create a very brief outline
22. Consult different Bible translations.
25. Twitter
26. Pray
27. Bible software
28. Gospel parallel
29. Bible dictionary
30. Music
31. Exercise
32. Google reader/blogs
33. Create Power Point slides
34. Consult with staff
35. Preach the Word of God
36. Make between service adjustments if necessary
37. Create a single sentence answering the question: "what do you want people to know?"
38. Recall past preaching experiences
39. After I get home from preaching--nap and/or television
40. Debrief with Melanie

The process of preparing a sermon amounts to anywhere from 5-15 hours per week, but I feel comfortable around 10-12 hours. My most recent season of preaching has involved the use of blogs and twitter--both my own posts and the posts of others. The process of blogging has given me a platform to clarify my thoughts about a particular text and theme early in the week. I suppose I could have done this in my earlier days of preaching, but blogging has been extremely helpful in this respect. I'm looking forward to the discussion tonight--and if you aren't involved in The Buzz--please feel free to leave your questions or feedback here.


  1. Thanks for filling in, Pastor Joe!

    Love that there are 40 "steps" to your sermon process. A nice biblical number. How symbolic of you! I especially like #37, 'Create a single sentence answering the question: "what do you want people to know?"', and #39, 'After I get home from preaching--nap and/or television.' Like that you include the "aftermath" as part of the process. Again, how symbolic of you!

    Thanks again. This post makes me wish I could go to your class!

  2. I wouldn't say that I do every 40 steps in preparing for a sermon. Some I don't have time to do some weeks, others don't seem to be necessary. The real essentials: Pray, read the text, preach the Word, nap and/or television.