“Dad,” the boy asked, “how do you know what to say every week?”
“God tells me,” he answered, writing some more thoughts on his sketch pad.
The boy watched for a few minutes more and asked, “Are you sure it’s God?”
“Absolutely,” the dad replied.
Finally, the boy asked what he’d been wondering the whole time. “Then why do you keep crossing things out?”
I’m curious… how do you go about creating your messages?
I approach my process differently every time, but I did write down some common things I tend to do. Here are the first five:
- Write down the themes of the past sermons your congregation has heard over the past 6 to 12 months. List the strengths and weaknesses of each message to determine how the people received or rejected what was shared. Pray and seek discernment regarding how your congregation needs to most be challenged by your next sermon in order to grow spiritually.
- Expose yourself to an assortment of books, magazine articles, videos and other media that offer a variety of perspectives on your potential sermon theme. Evaluate the materials for insights and illustrations, then use a word processor to type and save what you’ve identified as relevant to your sermon.
- Search the Bible for stories and verses that speak to your sermon theme. Use resources like Biblegateway.com to type in keywords in a variety of translations, then save the most relevant results in your file.
- Dialogue with trusted members of the congregation or church leadership about the direction of your sermon. Ask for their input and any stories from their lives that may complement what you will be preaching on. Interact with other people you regularly encounter in your week, asking what their thoughts and questions are on the theme you’re exploring.
- Write down a list of any thoughts or questions you have from all of your research. Refer to this list as you read the Bible passages you’ve previously identified while looking for the specific texts that you are most drawn to for your sermon. Deepen your understanding of these passages through the commentaries, word studies, maps and historical background provided for on Blueletterbible.com. Pray that God will help you understand His truth before you share it with others.
There are a number of other things I do after that, including how I approach actually writing out my sermon. The main thing to remember is that what you share may be one of the only clear presentations of Jesus that someone may hear – so don’t riff it out or use it as a way to share your personal platform/frustrations. Dig deep, but present it to them in a way they can understand… youth ministry is the limitless, largeness of God being presented to students at a level that they can understand and take steps with.
What does your process look like? What’s working for you, and what could you do differently?