Preparing for a Sermon1
As we have been learning from our “Endurance in the Gospel” series through 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul has had a lot to say to Timothy about the Word. Some of the synonyms that the apostle uses for the Word of God in 2 Timothy are:
- “the testimony about our Lord” (1:8)
- “the gospel” (1:8,10; 2:8)
- “the sound words” (1:13)
- “the good deposit” (1:14)
- “the word of truth” (2:15,18,25; 3:7,8; 4:4)
- “the sacred writings” (3:15), the Old Testament “Scriptures” (3:16) which are God-breathed, which Timothy has known from childhood, together with the teaching of the apostle which Timothy has “followed”, “learned” and “firmly believed” (3:10,14)
- “the word” (4:2)
- “sound teaching” (4:3)
- “the faith” (4:7)
As a pastor I take seriously my calling to do my best to present myself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2:15). I take seriously my responsibility to preach the word (4:2). I trust you expect those things of me and anyone who preaches and teaches at SOMA as we prepare for a sermon.
Recently I came across an article on seven ways church members should prepare for a sermon. I was intrigued by the title and encouraged (and challenged!) by the content. Here are the seven ways:
ONE: Pray for the sermon. For a few minutes, the church member should pray for the upcoming sermon. That prayer might take place during the week, the night before the preaching, or the morning of the preaching.
TWO: Pray for the pastor who is preaching. Pray that the pastor will understand God’s message for that text. Pray that the pastor will have no distractions. Pray that God’s Spirit will fill the pastor in both the preparation and delivery of the sermon.
THREE: Pray for yourself as you prepare to hear the sermon. Pray that God will speak to you through the message. Pray that you will not be distracted. Pray for clarity of mind and an open heart to receive the message.
FOUR: Read the biblical text before the sermon is preached. If possible, read the text from which the pastor will preach. Read it thoroughly. Read it prayerfully.
The first four ways to prepare for a sermon occur prior to the sermon. The final three ways occur during and after the sermon.
FIVE: Take notes. Take notes as the pastor preaches. You will have a greater focus and greater retention. Review the notes at least once during the next week.
SIX: Seek an application to your life. Ask God for discernment to help you understand how the sermon should change your life. Seek to understand the sermon not only in its biblical context, but in your life as well.
SEVEN: Share with the pastor “one thing.” If possible, share with your pastor one significant takeaway from the sermon. Pastors hear countless “good job, pastor,” or “nice message, pastor,” but they long to know if God really made a difference in the lives of the church members through the preached word. If you are able to communicate just one takeaway from the sermon in person, by email, or in social media, your pastor will be greatly encouraged.
These are good suggestions. On the weeks that I am not preaching, I plan to practice these ways to prepare for the sermon. I humbly ask each of you to practice these seven things on a regular basis.
Oh, and in case you are wondering… Lord willing I am preaching on 2 Timothy 4:9-22 this next Sunday.
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