Monday, January 13, 2014

How to Prepare a Sermon Series OR Nerdy Things I Get Psyched About

I've brushed the dust off my Greek Bible to prepare for a current sermon series in the book of Hebrews. This sermon-made-epistle is among the most complex works in the Bible. The author's use of Hebrew Scriptures requires a semester of ancient Jewish interpretive methods. His rhetorical skills and command of the Greek language impresses most biblical scholars. And his theological arguments about Jesus' nature, the extent of salvation, and the role of  angels (among other topics) has produced two millennia of debate.

I can think of no better book to preach on to stimulate my mind and energize my faith. Whether or not my congregation feels the same may be another story.

And since four hundred and sixty-two people have asked, I've included my process for sermon preparation. I follow some form of the eight steps listed below:
  1. Listen to God (i.e., pray) for the text or theme
  2. Select the text or theme and divide it into logical units
  3. Plot the text or theme on a calendar
  4. Research the topic or theme to divine the "Hook."
  5. Listen to God some more
  6. Research the logical unit (i.e., biblical passage) for the week
  7. Turn research into a sermon outline keeping the Hook in mind
    • Identify 2-4 Truths or Principles
    • Articulate 1 Application
  8. Fill in Sermon Outline with personal stories, illustrations, or examples from congregation
The Hebrews Series (Better) stayed true to form. 
    Product Details
  1. I felt God challenging me into deeper study of His word. Months of meeting with other pastors and my former Greek professors certainly fueled the feeling. 
  2. After selecting Hebrews as my text, I divided it into 32 sermons. 
  3. Then I slimmed the series to 28 weeks. Bad weather shrank the series yet another week. 
  4. Throughout December, I consulted three New Testament background books and three commentaries to guide my study of Hebrews. I also consulted the Charts on the Book of Hebrews by Herb Bateman, an invaluable resource to pastors. At the end of a month of ruminating, I was able to craft a Hook for the series: Encouraging better faith in our Better King. Not only does it borrow straight from Hebrews vocabulary, it also simplifies a difficult book into memorable language.
  5. I continued to listen to God more, resulting in a reading guide for our congregation.
  6. As each week rolls around, I follow a study plan that include structural outlines on Monday (to get the author's flow of thought) and commentaries/dictionaries/articles on Tuesday.
  7. By Wednesday, I try and turn my study notes into a sermon outline.
  8. On Thursday, I turn my sermon notes into a Prezi, adding illustrations and personal stories
If I'm really lucky, Sunday rolls around and get busy preaching. All my hard work earns a microphone, that is, if I don't forget to turn the mute button off.

1 comment:

Lee Compson said...

I've had my eye on Hebrews for a while, though I won't be preaching from it this year. In fact, in my ESV I've jotted 'big picture' notes and themes all connected by this idea of 'better' or 'best'.
Great minds truly do think alike. :)