Recently a friend emailed me and asked what I do to prepare for speaking. There are a million ways to deliver a message (and not all are effective), but not much has been written about how to prep for a talk/series. So I thought I’d share the advice that I wrote…
“When I prepare for a message it’s kind of like swimming in the deep-end of a pool of information. I make every attempt to completely surround myself with either the portion of Scripture or the topic for which I am going to preach. (Although I very rarely speak topically, mostly because I hope that scripture will drive the theme and not the other way around.)
Anyhow, back to swimming in the “deep end” of the pool…I try to surround myself with as much information about the passage/topic as possible (this includes both biblical and non-biblical information, ie. Commentaries, dictionaries, movies, literature, pop-culture stuff, etc). Then once I have all of that in my “pool,” I just swim/soak in it.
While “swimming” I will be praying and looking for quality avenues of communication. Ultimately, I am looking for that “one thing” in the passage that I want to say (cause really you can only ever say one thing!) and when I find it I stay with it. I stay there until I have essentially memorized what I want to communicate–which means that I know it from multiple angles, not that I have created a strict script to follow…
The reason I use the deep-end of the swimming pool as an analogy is because it is directly opposed to swimming in a “puddle” which is what I find many communicators doing. They surround themselves with limited information and minimal resources…and they don’t go very deep with it–which results in a delivery that is shallow at best.
One other thing about the “pool,” I will stay in the deep-end sometimes for a year or more. I don’t think I need to reinvent the wheel with each coming message, as a matter of fact I will continue to preach on the same passage/topic until I am sure I have exhausted every angle.
All that being said–the MOST IMPORTANT part about prepping for speaking is asking this question: What does God want to say? If you can get past what you want or what the students/audience wants, then you can focus on what God desperately wants to say through you. BTW, if you can pull that off then you will never have to worry about being original or relevant (two of the biggest hang-ups for preachers today).”
I hope that your time swimming in the deep-end is transformative and inspirational.