How to write a sermon?

I am by no means a great communicator.  I am not saying that just to sound humble, but as an honest evaluation of my speaking ability.  I am okay.  There are times when everything clicks and it is great, but they probably happen once every 6 weeks and the other 5 weeks are okay messages in terms of delivery.

Nevertheless, I have tried to find some common threads in the messages that seem to go better than others and I have created an outline that you might find helpful, or even add to if there is something I am missing.  I am not providing this as a formula that I follow every Sunday, but more so a skeleton that I refer to when I am preparing a message.

When I prepare a message I typically spend about 10 hours a week on a message, and I prefer to spend 2 hours a day working on the message.  I like to manuscript my message because it helps me to be as concise in my wording and it helps me work through the Scripture on how it personally applies to my heart and life.  Here is an outline of what I do each day:

  • Monday I study the passage of Scripture we are teaching that week and try to come up with a skeleton of a message.
  • Tuesday I try to fill in the skeleton to the best of my ability.
  • Wednesday I will read commentaries and do further study on parts of the Scripture that might be more difficult.
  • Thursday I will often times listen to how someone else taught the passage that is teaching to a similar context of our church.
  • Friday I will read, pray, tweak the message so that on Sunday morning I can read through the sermon 2-3 times before I deliver it on Sunday morning.

I have never finished a message on Sunday morning where I felt like there was nothing to improve.  There is always something to improve and the good news is that I wake up on Monday morning and start the process all over again:)

I.  Key Truth:  Find the big idea (study, commentary, prayer)

II.  What is our first reaction to the big idea? (Morally, Religion, Fear, Apathy)

III.  Look to scripture:

  • Set up the context
  • Identify their struggle / reaction in the passage
  • Identify a practical example / illustration of our struggle today
  • Points back to sin
  • Points to Jesus / cross (How does Jesus fulfill that truth for us through His righteousness? or Why should we look to Jesus to fulfill that truth for us through His righteousness?)

IV.  Our response:  Confession and repentance

V.  Our vision:  Talk about how it moves us to move out on mission with Jesus.  (Marriage, children, discipleship, evangelism).  This section doesn’t typically happen at the end of the message, but more so throughout the message.