To the average church member, ministry is a walk in the park.
They envision a life where the pastor rolls into the office in the late morning, answers a few emails, heads to a long lunch, has a couple of appointments in the afternoon, then goes home early.
If you’ve ever heard someone joke, “Must be nice to be a pastor and only work one day a week” … then you know what we’re talking about.
This perception couldn’t be further from the truth. The vast majority of pastors work long hours. They often sacrifice time with their families to serve the church. A pastor’s workday (and work evening) is packed with responsibilities related to budgets, leadership, visits, facilities, planning, staff, administration, and a hundred other things.
It’s a miracle that pastors have any time for writing sermons!
One of the huge ironies of ministry life is that pastors begin with a calling to preach … yet the very responsibilities of that ministry keep them from adequately planning their sermons.
Does this describe you? If so, you’re in the right place.
This article serves as your ultimate guide to preparing sermons. We are here to help you save time, be more creative, make a bigger impact, and most importantly, honor God with your sermons.
Let’s dive in by reviewing some of the benefits of sermon preparation.
We know you want to take your sermon preparation seriously. After all, it’s one of the major reasons you’re a pastor, right?
You want to share God’s Word with people. You want to deliver hope. You want to help people improve their lives with powerful teaching from Scripture.
But let’s be honest: some weeks, your sermon prep time gets drowned out. You don’t mean for this to happen. It’s just that there are so many things to do as a pastor.
Let’s take a look at seven benefits of making sermon preparation a bigger priority in your schedule, even on weeks when things get a little crazy.
Sermons are, by definition, creative projects. You’re reading, studying Scripture, determining teaching points, and incorporating stories and illustrations to create something new that has never existed in that exact form.
All of this requires time and mental energy.
If you’re pulling together a “Saturday night special” every week, your sermon hasn’t had time to marinade and soak in the benefits of creative thinking.
If you prepare your sermons a week or two (or more) before you deliver them, your brain has a much greater opportunity to create interesting connections and identify great stories and teaching points. All of these components create a stronger message.
Here are some shocking statistics, according to PastoralCareInc.com:
Other sources such as Barna report additional types of stress experienced by pastors. Even under the best of circumstances, ministry is a stressful occupation.
When you don’t feel prepared to preach, that adds even more stress to your life. Although crises may come, sermon preparation is still largely within your control. You can work to avoid the extra stress that comes from squeezing out a sermon at the last minute.
Your sermon prep timeline doesn’t affect only you. It also affects others who depend on a completed sermon in order to do their jobs: the worship leader, secretary, tech team, and others.
When you are able to work ahead, it makes everyone’s life easier. Think of all the staff and volunteers, and their families, who are impacted by additional stress when they have to make last-minute adjustments because they didn’t have your sermon on time.
When you prep ahead of time, you could impact dozens or even hundreds of people for the better!
Many worship leaders would love to collaborate with pastors more. They have lots of ideas for creative elements that would enhance worship and add more variety to services.
However, they can’t do it because their pastor doesn’t get their sermon written ahead of time. Musicians and tech people need at least a couple of weeks to prepare creative elements, especially those that involve music or video production.
But when this time is not available, it short-circuits the creative process. These staff and volunteers are left feeling frustrated.
Pastors should lead by example. You can’t ask for quarterly or annual planning from youth, small groups, or worship staff but then fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to your sermon prep.
The best way to show the importance of planning is to incorporate it into your weekly routine. Other will see your habits and be more likely to adopt those same habits as well.
Is preaching a spiritual calling? Yes, of course. But it should also be fun!
When you spend more time on sermon prep, you are more relaxed. Therefore, you can enjoy the process more.
This “fun factor” comes across in your delivery and attitude. When the congregation sees you having fun delivering God’s Word, that attitude will rub off on them also.
While preaching should be joyful and even fun, the most important reason to do it well is because it honors the God we serve.
No matter what kind of calling you experienced when you entered ministry, no matter what type of church you serve, you can be sure of one thing: God is honored by your preparation.
When you do this, He will in turn bless your efforts.
Taken together, these seven benefits are compelling reasons to put more time into your sermon prep. Now let’s look at a few practical ways to protect this time on your schedule.
As a pastor, it’s tempting to feel you must be available to people. After all, the whole reason you went into ministry was to serve people, right?
While that may be true, one of the best ways to serve people is to protect your sermon prep time. You only have a limited amount of emotional and spiritual energy, so this critical part of your schedule must be guarded at all costs. Here’s how to do it.
Here’s an exercise to help you decide what to delegate.
For two weeks, write down every task you perform in your ministry. (We suggest two weeks to get a more accurate picture since no two weeks in ministry are exactly the same.)
At the end of those two weeks, circle the tasks that only you can perform. For example, if you preach every week, that’s a task only you can do. (However, we would suggest that you begin to incorporate others into your preaching rotation.) If you are the senior pastor, you are probably expected to lead staff meetings as well.
Look at the rest of the tasks. They may be important, perhaps even vital, but do you have to be the one performing them?
Make a plan to begin delegating these tasks to others—either staff or volunteers. This can be a long process, but it’s worth the effort and patience in order to free up time to focus more on your sermon.
How long does your sermon prep normally take? Estimate the last four weeks and come up with an average. Then plan out that much time on your calendar for the coming week.
Guard this time with your life. Consider it to be a sacred meeting between you and God’s Word. You might even add in a couple hours of buffer time to account for breaks.
When you see this time set aside on your calendar, it has a powerful psychological effect. You will be more inclined to protect it as time goes on.
If you use a tool such as Google Calendar, you can share your calendar with others who can help protect it. Your assistant, or even other staff members, will know not to bother you during this time unless it’s a true emergency.
You can also let your congregation know when you’re working on your sermon. Consider listing these times in the church bulletin or mentioning it in your next sermon.
You can say something like, “In my sermon prep time on Wednesday, I was in a local coffee shop and noticed something interesting in Luke chapter 15 …”
This lets the church know that you take preaching seriously. It is also a subtle reminder not to interrupt you during those times!
If you are able, consider working somewhere other than your church office for sermon prep. A change of scenery can be good for your creative juices.
You will also be absent from the church building, where people are most likely to interrupt you. A double win!
It is rare than any given week will be perfect when it comes to your sermon prep time. But with some advance planning and intentionality, you can immediately improve the quality of this critical time during the week.
Now that we have established a few benefits and strategies related to your sermon prep, let’s highlight some helpful resources from Sermonary.
In this section, we will highlight several helpful resources to help make your sermon prep time more productive.
Since you’re reading this article on the Sermonary website, we are naturally going to suggest using our amazing sermon editor. We built this with busy pastors in mind. If you haven’t yet tried it, we recommend watching the demo video to see how it can help you with sermon prep.
If you have never used sermon software like this, you’ll be surprised at how much more fun it makes the sermon prep process. You can build your sermon in blocks, access them anywhere since they are stored in the cloud, and communicate more effectively with your congregation.
Our sermon editor is built for the page as well as the stage. Give it a try and click here to begin your no-risk trial.
If you have not yet read the blog posts here on the site, we encourage you to check those out as well. We recommend these to help you get started:
One of our favorite features of the Sermon Editor is the Templates section. We have included these to make it easier to build sermons according to your preferred styles. You can also try out a new template you may not have used before.
The following templates are included:
Traditional 3-Point Sermon Template. This is a traditional three-point sermon template. Each point includes explanation, illustration, and application blocks.
The ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE Method. Created by Andy Stanley, this preaching outline uses a simple formula to communicate the text’s big idea in a conversational manner.
Verse-by-Verse Running Commentary. This template is designed to help pastors work verse-by-verse through their text. Included are blocks for illustrations and application.
The Defender’s Outline. Work through this template when using apologetics to teach or defend a tenet of the Christian faith.
The Children’s Leader. This template, designed for children’s leaders, will help kids understand and apply the teachings of Scripture.
The Youth Pastor. This template is designed to help youth leaders communicate the Bible in a way that’s both creative and applicable for teenagers.
We encourage you to check out what other pastors have to say about preparing sermons. You’ll find these resources helpful.
Louie Giglio on Preaching That Connections with Today’s Young Adults (Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast)
How Mark Batterson Writes: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Publishing Life of a Pastor and NYT Bestselling Author (Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast)
How to Structure Your Sermon for Maximum Impact by Rick Warren
Preaching and Story: An Interview with Max Lucado by Michael Duduit
Preaching Biographically: An Interview with Chuck Swindoll by Michael Duduit
Preaching to the Heart by Timothy Keller
How to Give a Talk by Andy Stanley
Parables: How We Listen by Tim Mackie
Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley & Lane Jones
Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller
So far in this article we have taken a look at the importance of sermon prep time as well as a number of helpful resources. Now let’s dig into some practical tips related to sermon introductions, conclusions, illustrations, and more.
Which part of the sermon is most important?
Is it the introduction, illustrations, Bible content, application, or conclusion?
While all of these components are key parts of the message, the introduction is vital because it hooks the listener. You can have great Bible content, powerful illustrations, amazing application, and a great conclusion … but if you don’t capture your listener’s attention from the get-go, they won’t listen to much else.
Here are five powerful methods for creating a powerful sermon introduction.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. As humans, we love to tell stories. In fact, stories are so vital to our communication that God chose to use stories (narrative) as a way to reveal a large portion of the Bible!
To begin a sermon, select a relevant story from your own life or a story from history. This is a guaranteed way to grab someone’s attention.
To use the switch method, you basically say, “This is the conventional wisdom about the topic, but I’m saying something else.” You spend the first minute or two talking about what everyone believes, and then the next few minutes explaining why the conventional wisdom is wrong.
This is a powerful way to introduce a sermon for two reasons.
First, it contains a bit of surprise. This is valuable because most listeners expect the pastor to start a sermon the same way every week.
Second, you’re letting them know they are in for some surprises. Maybe they don’t know everything there is to know about the topic. That is a surefire way to keep them engaged.
Did you notice that we used the switch method to begin this article? We pointed out what most church members believe, then proceeded to show why it’s wrong.
This technique involves throwing a weird fact or statistic into the introduction just to shake things up and do something unexpected.
Never underestimate our human capacity to be obsessed with the weird, the strange, or the unusual. (A quick stroll on YouTube will show you this in about three seconds.) Make sure to take advantage of people’s natural curiosity in your introduction.
You can begin with something like: “Did you know that …” or “Most people would be surprised to learn that …”
Just make sure that when you’re using information or stats, they are credible and come from a trustworthy source. The more trustworthy and well-known your source is, the more powerful your argument will be.
Questions are a great way to begin a sermon because it immediately invites a response. However, you can take it to the next level by making sure to ask a question that gets a “yes” response.
This is a persuasion technique that is often used in sales. A question gets the listener agreeing with you. It also draws the listener in and opens a story loop that you will close later in the sermon.
A quote is probably the least powerful of these five methods since it doesn’t grab the listener’s attention the way a story or question does. However, if you can find a powerful quote that drives home your point, you can immediately get the listener thinking about the topic.
You can also combine a great quote with one of the other methods we’ve mentioned here. You can insert a quote just about anywhere in a sermon for some extra impact.
Now you have five great options for creating a sermon introduction that grabs the listener. Next, let’s move on to some tips for constructing an effective conclusion.
The conventional wisdom for writing a sermon—or any talk, for that matter—is “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.”
We can all appreciate that approach for its simplicity, but it’s not very helpful when thinking about a great sermon conclusion.
Many pastors wrestle with the Bible text, spend lots of time on application and introduction, but then run out of gas when it comes to the conclusion. Even if you grab the listener’s attention and help them understand and apply the Bible, you must help them take action on what they have heard.
It all goes back to the whole point of a sermon: to help the listener take action. A sermon does not exist for its own sake. It exists to help people live out their faith and put it into practice.
A helpful way to approach the sermon conclusion is to consider what Dr. Stephen Covey wrote in the classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Begin with the end in mind.”
If you are using the Sermonary sermon editor, you should have already identified the Bible passage and Big Idea you want to communicate in the sermon. But instead of jumping into the actual content of the sermon, think about what you want your listener to do.
In the marketing world, this is referred to as a “call to action.” You are literally “calling out” to the listener and asking them to take some type of specific action.
In the church world, we normally think of an altar call or “invitation” as the main call to action But there is so much more you can do with a conclusion.
Those are just a few examples. The key is to think about a specific, simple action you want the listener to take, then challenge them to do it.
Think about the programs or other initiatives you have going on at your church right now. Could your sermon tie into one of those?
Many times, we see our sermons as a totally separate entity from what happens in the rest of the church. But if you can tie it into something you’re already doing, the cross-promotion has a powerful effect.
It’s easy to shrink back from challenging people to a specific action. It can feel uncomfortable for both you and them if you’re not used to it.
But remember: you are called to lead, and leaders ask their followers to take risks and embrace challenges.
Here’s the secret: people want to be led. They really do. They want you to take them on a journey. They want someone to give them clear guidance on their next steps. So whatever your call to action is, make it bold and clear.
Now let’s turn our attention to a topic that is rarely talked about when it comes to sermon prep: countering your listener’s objections.
When we talk about sermons, we use words like illustrations, introduction, conclusion, Bible, and other familiar concepts in the world of preaching.
But “objections”? That sounds like something from a marketing meeting, not a pastor’s study.
Make no mistake: if you’re a pastor preparing a sermon, you’re in marketing. Marketing simply means spreading an important message in a creative way. If you can begin thinking more like a marketer, you can use psychological principles to help listeners process information and be more likely to take action on what they have heard in your sermon.
So, what are listener objections and how do we counter them?
Objections are the mental and emotional roadblocks that keep someone from believing what you say or taking action.
For example, if you’re preaching a sermon on the value of serving others, someone might think of the objection, “Yeah, but I don’t have the time to serve.”
Your job in preparing your sermon is to think of the possible objections someone might be thinking, and then answer them before the listener raises those objections.
In the example above, you could say something like this: “I know some of you are thinking that you don’t have time to serve others. But I want to show you three ways to serve that take very little time. Plus, when you serve in these ways you will honor Jesus and help fulfill his command to love one another.”
Keep in mind that people like comfort and predictability. They don’t want to feel threatened by something that is different unless they perceive it’s a positive change.
In other words, you must give them a good reason to change.
When you’re thinking about people’s objections, put yourself in their shoes. People want to feel that you understand them. They want to know that you empathize with their pain and frustrations in life.
If you can address the reader’s objections before they raise them in their mind, that will go a long way toward helping them be receptive to your sermon.
Here are four specific strategies for countering your listener’s objections:
This is a popular approach used by marketers to show that their product works. They will use testimonials and endorsements to help you see that it’s making a difference in other people’s lives. Therefore, it can help you, too.
You can use this same tactic by sharing testimonials and examples from people in your congregation. This lends credibility to your content and motivates people who can see the principles in action.
We all love incentives to change. Help your reader see the benefits of doing what you’re asking them to do.
For example: if you’re preaching a sermon on prayer, you could talk about some of the benefits: you’ll feel closer to God, you’ll set a good example for your kids, you’ll have more peace, and you’ll see God working in your life.
College freshmen usually have to a public speaking course. They often learn a speech framework called Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
This framework includes an important step near the end of the speech: help the listener visualize the change that can happen in their life.
This is a powerful way to give your audience a concrete image of a “preferred future” if they follow the principles you’re suggesting in your sermon. Spell out how their life can be different if they take action. Get creative and walk them through all many details as you can imagine.
People often don’t change because they can’t picture a better life for themselves. When you help your listener get a clear image of the future, they will have an easier time taking action that eventually produces a better life.
People are not all motivated by the same thing. Some people are motivated more by emotions, and some more by reason and logic.
For example, if you’re dealing with an overachiever and you say, “97% of people who try this will fail,” that person will be very motivated to succeed because they want to be in the top 3%. That is the person who always made straight A’s in school.
This may all sound like we are trying to manipulate readers and do some type of reverse psychology on them, but that’s not it at all.
All you’re doing is trying to put yourself in the shoes of your listener. You’re imagining what they think and feel about your topic.
One of the best ways we can serve our listeners is to think about their pain points. Why? Because we care about them. We want the best for them. This is essence of what it means to be a pastor, right?
So take a little time in your sermon prep to think about your listener’s possible objections and address them with a variety of methods.
One of the most critical and challenging parts of the sermon writing process is finding and organizing illustrations.
Illustrations make the sermon come alive. They help the listener relate to the content and see it in action.
This can be a challenge because a weekly sermon demands a constant flow of illustrations. Here are a few thoughts on doing it well.
The most effective illustrations don’t come from a database. They come from your own personal study and curiosity. Reading widely, and reading every day, gives your mind a steady diet of material to use.
You can also read books the feature lots of different stories, such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a great starting place to help you see life from a different perspective.
It is also important to have hobbies and interests outside the church. This broadens your horizons and gives you lots of interesting stories to use in your sermons.
There are two types of illustrations: those that come from your own life, and those that come from other sources.
When you want to capture a story or illustration from your own life, you must write it down. This seems like such a simple task, but you can easily forget to do it.
We recommend that you capture it in a tool such as Evernote, a notebook, or even the “My Ideas” feature on the Sermonary sermon editor.
If there is a story or illustration from another source, such as a book or website, you can take a picture or use something like the Evernote Web Clipper to capture it. You can also use your phone to dictate and transcribe the material.
But what happens when you have gathered lots of this material over time? You will need some type of organization system to keep track of it.
Evernote is a great tool for storing lots of clips, notes, and content. You can tag those notes and find them later in just a couple of seconds. You can also use another storage system like Word documents or even a paper notebook.
We also highly recommend reading our post on how to add sermon illustrations to our sermon editor software here on Sermonary.
Whatever system or tool you use, make sure it’s one that improves your sermon prep process and doesn’t make it more difficult.
We have spent lots of time in this article talking about the benefits of sermon prep and giving you resources to help you write your sermons.
But what happens after the sermon? Do you just close the computer file and let it languish on your hard drive, never to be seen again?
The answer is a resounding “No!” Here’s why: the sermon you deliver in church is only the beginning of the process. In this section, you’ll learn ten ways to take that same content and use it to impact many more people than just those who hear it for the first time.
If your church has a blog, or you have a personal blog, this is an easy win. You’ve already written the sermon, so why not use it as a blog post as well?
If you want to put in a little more effort, you can break up your sermon into several blog posts. If your sermon manuscript if 2,500-3,500 words, this equals four or five shorter blog posts.
As a pastor, your preferred delivery method is speaking, but there are lots of people who would rather read your sermon than listen to it (no offense!). It all comes down to learning style. In addition, there are people who would like to revisit your sermon in written form.
This is a no-brainer. Your church is probably already recording your sermon audio, so why not repurpose it as a podcast?
If you don’t have a podcast for your church, consider doing this as soon as possible. For those who miss your live services, the ability to listen to your sermon as a podcast is a big convenience.
This is similar to a blog post, except you send it out to your church’s email subscribers. (You can also include a snippet of the blog post based on your sermon, rather than including the whole lengthy sermon in an email).
The advantage of an email is that it goes straight to a person’s inbox. Even though email is an old technology, it’s still the best way to reach church members directly and ensure they see your content.
If your church already has a weekly newsletter, you can include a short description of your sermon and a link to the blog post, video, or podcast episode.
We don’t recommend sharing a full blog post on social media unless you are using something like LinkedIn Publishing, which is designed for that purpose. Instead, it’s better to share a quote, an image, or a short summary of the content along with a link.
Social media works best when it’s engaging and invites the reader into a relationship with you. That is why visual elements and questions work so well on those platforms.
As a pastor, you are likely already teaching courses. Whether in person or online, courses are a great opportunity to do a deep dive into a subject and impact people’s lives in a deeper way.
If you have a particular sermon series that was well-received, consider turning it into a course. You can use the same content but add discussion, group projects, assignments, extra reading, or other items to help students grow.
You may also have opportunities to teach at a local college or university. Many pastors have advanced degrees that allow them to double as instructors or adjunct professors.
Another version of a course is small group curriculum. This is similar to a course because you have lessons or modules that are geared toward specific learning objectives. However, a course focuses more on helping the student learn a specific set of skills or a body of knowledge, while group curriculum focuses more on discussion and a shared experience.
You can take the blog post from the first idea above and use it on another website or blog. Since you are probably already writing a blog post based on the sermon, it’s only logical to post it other places as well.
A great place to start is by guest posting on a friend’s blog. You can also use a site such as Medium.com, where anyone can post for free.
If you have ever read books by Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Max Lucado, and other well-known pastors, you are already familiar with the concept of turning sermons into a book.
When you think about it, it makes total sense. A sermon is roughly the length of a standard non-fiction book chapter. If you put ten or twelve of those together, you have yourself a full-length book.
This doesn’t mean you should just slap a dozen sermons together to create a book. A book is a complete package where each chapter is a carefully thought-out piece of a larger whole. A good developmental editor can help with this process.
If you have a passion for books, you can reverse-engineer your sermon series to make it more book-ready. In fact, some pastors write their sermons as book chapters, then adapt them for public speaking.
To take things even further, you can create several forms of the same book: print book (hardcover or paperback), audio, ebook, and even a workbook.
If you love creating stories, consider turning your sermon (or sermon series) into a fiction book. Jesus used parables as a vehicle to teach, so you’re in good company when you want to use stories as a way to teach truth.
Many business books today are written in this style. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, and The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon are just a few examples.
You’ve already created your sermon as a speech in one place (your church). Why not deliver it other places as well?
Granted, it needs to be the right time and place. You probably won’t be delivering your latest sermon at the local Rotary Club. However, there are lots of other opportunities for sharing your sermon content in workshops, speeches, seminars, or presentations in places that are open to spiritual content.
We have already mentioned podcasting, which is a simple way to repurpose your sermon since you probably already record the audio. If you don’t already record the video as well, we recommend doing so because it’s an easy way to reach more people.
The best places to use your video are YouTube and Facebook Live. However, you can also take short chunks of your sermon and use these as teasers on those social media platforms, as well as others that use short-form video such as Instagram or even TikTok.
If reading these ten ways to repurpose your sermon seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. There is no pastor who does all of these. Select one or two that feel most natural to your goals and give it a try.
As we begin to look toward the end of this article, we would love to share a few “time hacks” for your sermon prep to make the process even more efficient.
There is a popular notion among some pastors that preparing your sermon should be a long, grueling process. There is a perception that the more you have struggled to write a sermon, the more effective it will be.
That’s not true all. In fact, we suggest that there is a lot of time wasted in the sermon prep process because of a lack of direction and inefficient use of time.
To that end, we would like to share seven “sermon prep time hacks” that will help you create an amazing sermon in less time.
Here at Sermonary, we are huge fans of sermon series. Since you’re reading this on our website, you have probably noticed we have a large number of sermon series available for you to use.
Whether you use the resources here, or you create your own from scratch, we recommend planning your sermons as a series because you will save lots of time that way.
When you use a series, you can work on multiple sermons at once and share similar ideas from sermon to sermon. And let’s face it: people’s attention spans are shorter these days, so repeating some themes between sermons in a series can help from a learning perspective.
Using a series also makes it easier for video and tech teams, since you will be using the same creative assets for the whole series instead of creating these items from scratch every single week.
We can already hear the objections: “I like to plan and write my sermons alone. I don’t need help from others, especially the ones who are not trained in preaching or Bible interpretation.”
We get it. You’re a trained pastor and it’s natural for you to want as much control as possible when it comes to your sermons.
But consider this: When you involve others in some aspects of planning, you will gain the benefit of having more minds working on the same concept. (It’s like the old saying, “Two heads are better than one.”) Those folks will also be excited to help and appreciate the fact that you involved them.
Once you have a sermon outline and the core Bible content, it’s time to sit down and put it all together by writing out your sermon.
Hold that thought. You don’t actually need to sit down.
In fact, you take a walk and dictate a draft of your sermon. If you’ve never done this, it’s a simple yet powerful way to quickly create your draft. If you already have an outline, just walk around and dictate your thoughts into your phone, which will transcribe it into text.
With this method, you can dictate about 3,000 words an hour. That’s basically your whole sermon.
Your rough draft will need editing and polishing before it is finalized. But imagine how good it would feel to take an hour-long walk and have a draft of your sermon finished … versus staring at a computer screen for several hours while you painstakingly type it out.
If the previous point sound a little too daunting, try this instead.
If you take a look at how you spend the minutes in your days, you will probably find that you have lots of “spare” moments. Spare moments are small chunks of time between other events.
Think of how much time the average person spends waiting for things to happen. You wait at the doctor’s office, you wait at the DMV to get your car license renewed, you wait to pick up your child from school, you wait for a meeting to start, you wait in line at the grocery store … and the list goes on.
These spare moments are a potential gold mine for writing snippets of your sermon as long as you have an outline ready. Five minutes here or ten minutes there can be very useful if you use them purposefully.
This may sound a bit radical, but what if your sermon didn’t have to be 30-35 minutes long? What if it were 25 minutes long?
Five minutes doesn’t sound like much. But added up over the course of 48 sermons (we’re assuming you take a few weeks off each year), that’s 250 minutes, or two months’ worth of sermons!
It’s pretty rare that church members complain about shorter sermons. In today’s culture of short attention spans, shortening your sermon a bit will probably help people stay engaged more. It will also require a little less prep time on your part.
This is a popular productivity method where you set a timer for 25 minutes, do focused work, and then take a break for 5 minutes.
This is a great way to do short bursts of sermon writing when you are working in bocks of a few hours. You write, take a short break, write some more, take a short break, and keep the process going.
Plus, if you only allow yourself a certain amount of time to get your sermon done, the Pomodoro technique can help you focus and maintain your energy.
Music is one of the most overlooked elements of sermon preparation (or any content creation, for that matter). The right mix of music or ambient noise can help focus your mind and put you in the creative zone.
You can tools such as Focus @ Will to give you personalized music, Coffitivity for a nice ambient background, a Spotify playlist such as “Lo-Fi Beats,” movie scores, or anything else that helps you focus.For even more ideas, be sure to watch our video on How to Write an Effective Sermon in 7 Easy Steps.
If you have read to the end of this post, you may be wondering what all this means for your ministry and your congregation.
The ultimate answer is: growth.
When you prepare your sermons well, you keep growing as a leader.
When you prepare your sermons well, your family appreciates it because you are less stressed and more joyful.
When you prepare your sermons well, your staff and volunteers are happier and more creative because you are collaborating and planning alongside them, and they can do their jobs better.
When you prepare your sermons well, your congregation grows in their faith and obedience to Jesus.
When you prepare your sermons well, God’s kingdom grows because you have a better opportunity to repurpose your sermons and impact more people.
Pastor, we know it sometimes feels like you’re on the ministry treadmill. Sundays come around with amazing regularly—every seven days!
We encourage you to choose a few strategies from this guide and start putting them into practice into the coming weeks and months. We are confident you will want to take your sermon prep to a whole new level once you see how it can impact you, your family, your church … and ultimately, the world.