How I Prepare An Expository Sermon, Part 6

Part 6: Preaching the Sermon

On Sunday morning I arrive at church to teach a Young Adult Sunday School Class at 10:00 am. Between Sunday School and church I take a few minutes to look over my manuscript again and underline key words and phrases. Believe it or not this simple process of reviewing and underlining seals the key points in my mind for the message.

I do not preach extemporaneously “without notes.” Instead I take the notes with me, but I do not read them (unless when citing a lengthy quote, which is rare). One of the worse things that a preacher can do in his delivery is to read, or even sound like one is reading his notes. I especially want to maintain eye contact during the introduction, therefore I have to know exactly what I’m going to say when I begin. There is a balance between not reading and yet knowing exactly what to say to introduce the sermon. I believe that rambling introductions are a curse! Get to the point as quickly as possible!

I strongly believe in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in preaching. After all my studying is complete and the manuscript is written, there still remains a desperate need for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can cause the message to go forth in power and accomplish its God intended purpose. I pray for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit each time I preach. The more aware I am of my need for this work of the Spirit, the more powerful my preaching seems to be. If I go in my own strength, trusting in my preparation and not the empowerment, illumination, and convicting power of the Holy Spirit, I will crash and burn. Sometimes God graciously allows me to crash and burn when I go in my own strength in order to increase my dependence upon Him. On the other hand, some of my best moments preaching have been when I have been weak in body and therefore utterly dependent upon the aid of the Holy Spirit. God always seems to bless when I acknowledge my weakness before Him.

Because the act of preaching is one in which the Holy Spirit is at work, I never know for sure exactly how the sermon will go. I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in my preparation, as well as in my preaching, but sometimes I say things that I did not plan to say and omit things which I had planned to say. This is the freedom in preaching that comes as the result of preparation, not as many believe, in spite of preparation. My observation is that the more one prepares, the more variety there will be in ones preaching because the Spirit has more material from which to choose from the preacher’s mind. Those who do not prepare well to insure their spontaneity or “being led by the Spirit” usually end up saying the exact same things in the exact same ways. I wouldn’t want to blame the messages that result from being ill-prepared on the Holy Spirit!

At the end of the sermon, I am a failure. Preaching, if done in the right attitude, is a very humbling activity. There is really no way to measure the success immediately (although many try through manipulative “altar calls”). This is sometimes frustrating. Only a firm belief that God will use His Word to convert the lost, convict the sinner, equip and encourage the saints allows me to continue each week preaching the Word with relatively little visible results. Another humbling aspect of preaching is the immense majesty of the Word which we are called to proclaim. The richness of God’s Word insures that all preachers will always fail to mine the depths of a particular passage. As I drive home from church on Sunday, I am keenly aware that I have failed to exhaust the depths of the passage. There was more that could have been said, and what was said could have been said better. But at the end of the day I must realize that God has chosen me as a weak vessel to manifest His own surpassing glory so that God alone receives the glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

9 comments

  1. Yes, Thank-you for taking the time to write these posts! They are most beneficial…

    As one who is blessed to hear your sermons every Sunday morning, I am thankful for all the prayer, study and time you put into the sermons. WBBC is blessed with excellent preaching on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights (Charlie Henderson), and an excellent adult Sunday School class taught by Jeremy. We are truly blessed by God!

  2. D.J.,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. We are blessed by the faithful preachers God has given us (including you!). I’m looking to your message on Sunday night.

  3. Steve…

    I’ve enjoyed browsing your blog. I just graduated seminary in May 06 and started pastoring this fall (in Tennessee). With all my heart I love the exaltation of Jesus Christ through preaching, but I never realized the enormity (sp?) of having to preach 3 times per week. Looks like you have some help with Sunday nights from other pastors/congregants.

    Any thoughts about coming up with 3 quality sermons/Bible studies per week, and where to save time in sermon prep?

    God bless…thanks for the quality writings.

  4. Mark,

    Thanks for your visit to my site and your words of encouragement. I thought about commenting on my schedule: past and present. As you noted, I am not preparing three sermons a week currently. But I have in the past. Our church is currently blessed with four faithful young expositors who I rotate around in various services in our church. My schedule is also different now because I am both working on a ThM and teaching two Seminary Extension classes. Anyway, here’s what I did before . . .

    I would begin on Monday morning working about 4 hours on the Sunday morning text. Tuesday morning I would work four hours on the evening text. I would alternate like this throughout the week, scheduling my other responsibilities in the afternoons. I would work Wednesday afternoon preparing a short devotional for our prayer meeting.

    I would use four mornings a week (taking all day Friday and Saturday morning off) to work on those two Sunday sermons. I would finish the Sunday morning sermon on Saturday evening and the Sunday evening sermon on Sunday afternoon.

    That’s how I did it.

  5. Steve,
    Brother, I praise God for your faithfulness and diligence in the wonders of His Word! I give Him thanks for raising you up to feed the saints there and to lead them to the living spiritual springs of Christ. I also thank Him for using you to encourage and instruct us all through this excellent series. Thank you for investing in the rest of us who wish to grow in faithfulness and Spirit-enabled effectiveness in the communication of God’s Word.

    Have you considered binding and publishing these in some form, perhaps including your pdfs and other visuals? This would make a great booklet and would be useful to a lot of men aspiring to preach expositionally. If you haven’t considered this, you should do so.

    Thanks for teaching me brother. Grace and peace,
    Thabiti

  6. Thabiti,

    Thanks so much for your kind words and especially for the glory that you give to God. He alone is worthy.

    I am a fan of yours from afar and so I am honored by your visit to my site and your gracious comment.

    I haven’t really considered having the posts published, but I would if they would be helpful to anyone. I’m not sure who if anyone outside of the blogosphere would like to have them. At the least, I can compile the posts, put them in pdf format and post a link online. If anyone is interested in such, just let me know.

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