I’ve had the privilege of leading a preaching lab recently. It’s been a blast. This process has forced me to clarify how I prepare my sermons.
Some time back, I heard Mark Driscoll offer his set of questions that he asked himself during sermon prep, which started me thinking along this line. (Giving credit where it’s due here. I don’t care what you think about Mark Driscoll, so please, don’t get distracted). But now that I’ve been at it for a while, here are the 8 questions I ask myself when I’m getting a sermon ready:
- What does the text say?
What am I reading? What’s happening in the text? This question discovers what’s actually going on at face value. Very important to hold off interpreting until you read it a few times.
- What does the text mean?
Now come the tools of hermeneutics and exegesis. How, according to the rules of good Bible reading, am I to interpret what the text says.
- What is the hook?
Every good song has a hook—the part we remember in the chorus, even if we forget the verses. Sermons should have hooks if preachers want the content remembered.
- What are the defeater beliefs?
What am I preaching that will be stopped by the inherent defeaters my audience believes? What pre-existent beliefs are opposing the gospel?
- How will I overcome the defeater beliefs?
If you don’t mention their defeaters and start defeating them, then your people will quietly begin exuding themselves from obedience.
- Where is Jesus?
How is Jesus exalted in the text? This is where you get out your Bryan Chappell and Tim Keller books and make sure you’re not just pasting justification-by-faith at the end of your sermon. Think about it. He’s there. Show them where.
- What do I want the Christians in the room to do?
How should they apply your preaching? Repent? Sign up for a group? Evangelize? You’d better tell them, or they probably won’t do much.
- What do I want the non-Christians in the room to do?
If you care about people who aren’t yet Christians, you need to start telling them what to do as well. How should they respond? Remember, you’re preaching to Christians and to non-Christians every week. Let me know you know they’re there, and that you love them by talking to them too.
Yes, a lot more goes into prepping a sermon than this. But, this is how I start to organize my thoughts. Did I miss something?1