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7 defining moments in your sermon preparation (2)

Let’s think about two defining moments in sermon preparation that tie into the transition between passage study and message formation.

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTOR 108/Peter_Mead 16 DE MAYO DE 2024 10:00 h
Photo: [link]Ioann-Mark Kuznietsov[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

While the whole preparation process will shape your message, some defining moments will fundamentally change the outcome of the process.

We started with two related to starting preparation.

Now let’s think about two that tie into the transition between passage study and message formation:


3. The decision to transition from passage study to message formation

The first half of the preparation process focuses on understanding the passage.  The second half involves formulating and writing a message.  The shift between these two phases is critically important. 

If you shift too early, then you will be working on the message without really grasping the meaning of the passage. If you shift too late, then you will have plenty of exegetical insight to share, but little time to craft a message that lands in real life. 

Do you tend to fall in one direction or the other?  It is hard to see a lack of understanding in the mirror – we all tend to think we have a good grip on a passage when it may only be a superficial sense of the meaning. 

Or you may be in a rut of sharing exegetical nuggets without crafting a message that is shaped to speak into real life. 

And some, sad to say, neither know the joy of being gripped by a passage, nor the pleasure of crafting a sermon that hits home – they just use a passage as a launch point for some standard favourite content. 

If that could be you, then it may be time for some candid conversations with some listeners, and for radical surgery on your ministry. It will be worth it.


4. The realization of who will be listening.

At one level, this moment is fairly straightforward, as long as it happens.  That is to say, after studying the passage to understand the author’s meaning as accurately as possible, then you consciously introduce your listeners into your thinking as you move to crafting the sermon for their benefit. 

You don’t want to be thinking too much about your listeners when you are studying the passage, because your concern is the original audience of the text.  Neither do you want to not be thinking about your listeners when shaping the message, because your concern has to be for them as the audience of the sermon. 

That moment of introducing conscious consideration of your listeners should be a standard point in the process every time (and essentially the same moment as number 3 above).

But then there will be some sermon-specific moments in this category too. 

You might realise how the message could hit very close to home for someone in your congregation. You might be told that a certain person is going to be present.

You might be at church when someone walks in that you were not expecting (and you realise your message requires some tweaking for their sake – either to be more accessible, less provocative, or whatever.)

As this list continues to build, what defining moments do you recognize in your sermon preparation?

Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. He blogs at Biblical Preaching




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