For a few years now, I’ve been using a great routine when it comes to sermon/message preparation. Here’s what it looks like:
1) I put together a message plan for the next 6-9 months (usually with the help of other staff pastors).
2) I begin to outline sermons for the next two or three weeks.
3) On Tuesday of any given week, my focus in on the message I’ll be preaching the following week. This helps for developing continuity in a series and a sense of progress and movement in a series.
4) On Wednesday, my focus in on putting the finishing touches on the message for this coming Sunday.
5) Thursday morning I meet with four of the other pastors on my staff to walk through the message. These are friends who input and opinions I value and trust. Quite often the message I’ve prepared looks dramatically different after our “message prep” session. This group gives me added confidence that the message for Sunday will be clear and also has a sharp edge to communicate the truth that God has placed on my heart to share. They help to make sure there is always a clear Gospel presentation in each message, as well as plenty of “meat” to challenge the mature Christian to continue to growth in Christ-likeness.
6) All of this preparation is well and good, but the most critical element that I’ve implemented in my preaching process is gathering another group in my office between our Sunday gatherings to help evaluate and critique the message (they just heard), before I preach it a second time in our 11am gathering. Usually, two of those who join me for this evaluation were present in our Thursday group. It’s also very beneficial to include a couple of people who were not a part of the prep group, but just heard the message for the first time. These last minute tweaks really help to refine the message for maximum effectiveness. All total, there are usually about six people involved in the message preparation and evaluation process we’ve been doing for years. It has helped me be a much better communicator and little wonder our church has grown exponentially since we began this message preparation approach. This is also a great opportunity to practice humility as every preacher knows that feeling of vulnerability after delivering a message. These are people who are confident and secure of their relationship with me who give open and honest feedback. I solicit their corrections and make a point of grading the message myself to start the ball rolling. Funny thing is, I’ve never given myself an A+ the first time around. Since no one is prefect, there no way any sermon will ever be, there’s always room for improvement.
How about you church leader/pastor? Why not get more people involved with the process to sharpen your sermon and your delivery skills?
In the next post, we’ll take a look at the benefits to others in the team sermon preparation approach.