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The Making of a Sermon

November 29, 2011

Admittedly, I am five minutes into what will hopefully be a lifetime of preaching/pastoring. So, I am nowhere near an expert in the field. However, I think it is helpful to see how people from all levels of development approach a text to the point of developing an outline to carry into the pulpit.

For my sermon this past week on Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:22,23. I started by reading a variety of texts on the topic of Immanuel:

NIV Application Commentaries on both Matthew and Isaiah – Michael Wilkins (Matthew) and John Oswalt (Isaiah), Class Notes from C. John Collins on Messianic Interpretation, an essay by H.G.M Williamson on Preaching from Isaiah in the book Reclaiming the OT for Christian Preaching, selections from Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God, Michael Williams’ Far as the Curse is Found, and Sandra Richter’s The Epic of Eden. I also reviewed several essays and notes in the ESV Study Bible, read both texts through (with significant help) in the original Hebrew and Greek to get a better sense of the text, and reviewed an essay I wrote for class in seminary on the development of Messianic hope in Isaiah.

I always like to listen to people preach on a topic I am going to preach on to get a sense of the emotion behind a passage and to get ideas for how to organize thoughts. For this sermon I listened to one by Tim Keller and a 20 minute radio interview of Bryan Chappell on the meaning of Christmas.

All of this led me to write my sermon manuscript. This is usually a quick process and takes under 2 hours because I am so saturated in material.

Then, I print the manuscript and discect it as I look for flaws, clarifications, subtractions, and additions. Here is what this looks like:

God With Us Sermon Manuscript (Marked Up)

From this point, I read the sermon through a few times looking for the main ideas I will need to remember and be prompted on. This can be a difficult process. With this sermon, I had to take 5 pages of single spaced material and pair it down to a half-sheet of paper. I like to do this so I don’t have a lot of paper in the pulpit which only distracts me and the congregation. The half-sheet also allows me to put it in my Bible so I can walk from the pulpit without looking like I am reading from a sheet of paper. Here is an example from this sermon:

God With Us Sermon (Pulpit)

By the time I am actually preaching, I rarely look at my notes. So, the main benefit of the manuscript and even the half-sheet is the cement the ideas in my mind so I can spend more time engaged with the text and the congregation while I am preaching and less time flipping through notes.

You can listen to the sermon audio here.

I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to pass it along.

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