No More Saturday Night Specials

Brief Overview

We all know that having a schedule and keeping a schedule are important for pastors. But far too often, we don’t make the best use of our schedules and this damages both our preaching and our health. If you want to thrive as a preacher, here are a few ideas that will help you make and stick to your schedule.

Big Ideas:

  • Scrambling increases stress that damages your health. Forced, last minute sermon preparation increases anxiety, reduces the amount of time you sleep, challenges relationships and pushes time with God in prayer to the side. This is how you become a talking head.

  • Schedule your sermon preparation. Clarify the steps in your preparation process. Get each step on your calendar. Show up when that time is scheduled.

  • Schedule your sleep. Embrace your limitations and decide well in advance when you’re going to bed. Not only is this an act of worship, it’s a declaration of sanity. Your best work consistently happens when you get a good night’s sleep.

Justin Trapp on How To Build A Better Sermon

Brief Overview

Most preachers use a collection of digital tools to help prepare sermons. Until recently, there was no solution available that would provide a single resource that could help write, present and store your sermons. But Justin Trapp has created a fantastic resource called Sermonary that you should start using.

Big Ideas:

  • Pastors are pressed for time. From social media connections to internal pressure to do more, pastors find their schedules filled with tasks and meetings and conversations that make it challenging to find time to write sermons.

  • Pastors waste time organizing their research. From notes scribbled on legal pads to markups on digital resources inside a piece of Bible software, time and energy gets spent trying to remember what you studied and where you put it.

  • Sermonary simplifies and speeds up your preparation. From templates to sermon building blocks, Sermonary makes it easy to organize your message in a format that you can use to deliver your sermon without having to take time to print a manuscript or outline.

Yancey Arrington on Preaching That Moves People

Biggest Takeaways You Don't Want To Miss:

  • Tribal Preaching. Our theology, philosophy, and methodology of preaching find common ground with others who share our convictions. Finding and actively engaging our tribe helps strengthen our resolve and clarify convictions. However…
  • No tribe has all the answers. Each tribe’s approach to preaching contains both wisdom and flaws. We need to learn broadly to shore up weaknesses and reduce our blind spots.
  • Preach to the heart. Preachers must be winsome, not only contending for truth but compelling their listeners to respond by preaching to their heart. 

Preaching the gospel of Jesus in every sermon from the biblical text is a hallmark of Christian preaching. And because this news is so good - almost too good to be true - each of us who preach should consistently refocus our efforts on the motivational structure of people's hearts.

Are You Ready For Summer? [New Coaching Program]

Are You Ready For Summer? [New Coaching Program]

As we get into the summer, you might feel like you're at a crossroads. We all want to thrive as pastors but our work is hard, and we do stupid stuff that hurts. So talented leaders with good intentions end up hobbled - and if the statistics are true, a lot of us aren't going to make it to the end.

You may have heard someone say that every pastor needs a coach. Any questions why this is true? You weren't made to navigate the complexities of ministry on your own - and a great coach comes alongside you to help you run faithfully for the long haul.

That's why I'm launching a summer coaching program for pastors and ministry leaders. 

More details inside the post...

How To Build A Sermon Delivery System

Are you guilty of homiletical ventriloquism?

I can hear my preaching professor at Beeson Divinity School, Dr. Robert Smith, hollering at me to 'Make it plain!!!'

Got it, Doc.

Have you found your voice or are you borrowing someone else's voice?

If you're just getting started as a preacher, it's likely that you find yourself using the words, cadence and non-verbals of other preachers you respect.

But what happens if you never find your own voice?

Maybe you really latch onto someone else's style because you find it captivating.

Perhaps you become convinced that the way someone else explains, applies or illustrates a text is far more effective than anything you might come up with on your own.

Every tribe has preachers they point to as uncommonly effective.

And, please, let's admire them and thank God for them!

But don't hide your voice because their voice is so effective.

And if you don't know how to find your voice, I can help you.

What I've found in my own journey of more than 20 years and through my work with hundreds of pastors is that there are two things you need to find your voice.

First, you need experience.

The more opportunities you have to preach, the more you'll learn about how God has wired you to tell people the good news of all that God has done through Jesus Christ.

Second, you need a sermon delivery system.

You need a process, a plan, a framework that helps you discover and develop an approach to preaching that is faithful to the biblical text and frees you to be yourself. 

What goes into a sermon delivery system? Let me show you:

1. Cultivate spiritual health. 

Too many preachers have let themselves go spiritually.

The reasons vary but two indicators stand out among the rest.

First, a lack of prayer. Both in the amount of time spent and the content of those prayers.

Second, an absence of deep relationships with other men. Our friendships rarely go beyond the surface.

And because our job is to be a spiritual leader, we are forced to fake our way through Sundays. Carrying ourselves as though we have been with Jesus and have been changed by him since the previous Sunday.

That's the bad news. Now here's some good news.

Spiritual health does not require spiritual perfection.

In fact, the hallmark of spiritual health is its simplicity.

Honesty and hope. Repentance and faith.

A real life with the real Jesus that shapes prayers and friendships.

2. Decide On Notes, No Notes or Something In Between.

I don't preach with notes.

For the past six years, the only thing I take with me when I preach is my Bible.

No post-it-notes inside of my Bible. No outline. No devices like a teleprompter.

Does it make me more effective as a preacher? Yes.

It works for me.

But it doesn't work for everyone.

Name a method - manuscript, outline, post-it-note, etc. - and I can point you to an outstanding preacher who uses that method to bring their study into the pulpit.

So how do you know what's right for you?

First, start with the method you are most comfortable with.

Then, reduce your notes incrementally. If you use a manuscript, spend a month using an outline. Then spend a month with a 3x5 card of notes. Then spend a month preaching all or parts of your sermon with nothing written down.

Be patient and explore your options, particularly if you are new to preaching.

Do I think you should try to preach without notes?

Yeah, I do. At least try it.

The reason it makes me more effective is because it communicates to the congregation that this message is embedded in my head and heart.

And I love it because there is nothing in my life that causes me to trust the Holy Spirit more than the 40 minutes every week when I'm preaching and all my prep work is 20 minutes away in my home office.

But in the end? You need to be yourself.

All I'm encouraging you to do is to explore the possibilities that might bring more of you to life as you preach.  

3. Understand how you grab people's attention.

There are multiple ways to start a sermon.

Tell a story. Make it funny. Make it dramatic.

Report on a current event.

Summarize a previous sermon or series of sermons.

Which way is the right way?

Whichever way most naturally suits you.

If you're a great storyteller, tell great stories.

If you can effectively recap last week's message and build a bridge to today's sermon, make it happen.

If you can say things with an uncommon intensity, bring the thunder.

Certainly, the context of your text and/or topic should play a significant role in determining how you start a sermon.

But don't discount what you do best as a communicator. 

4. Evaluate every sermon you preach.

One of my favorite questions to ask preachers is 'how do you evaluate your sermons?'

I always learn a lot from the different ways that someone looks back and determines the effectiveness of their sermon.

I also know that most preachers don't consistently evaluate their sermons. And those who do often create something that is either too complex or pays attention to relatively minor issues.

If you're looking for a simple way to evaluate a sermon, use these three questions:

  • What was the best part of the sermon?
  • If you could do it again, what would you have done differently?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how effective was the sermon?

Let me say something about that last question. If I'm using that to evaluate myself, I'm comparing this sermon to past sermons that I've preached. And I consider a '5' to be a normal sermon. So a '4' or a '6' isn't a bad sermon; it just means that it's an average Matt Adair sermon.

Can you ask more questions? Sure. And you might need to if you have a particular aspect of preaching you want to focus on. But I use this with our preaching team and it has been very, very effective. 

Do The Next Right Thing

To learn more about what it takes to build a Sermon Delivery System, download our FREE resource, The 3 Systems You Need To Preach Better Sermons.

It will help you evaluate your preaching and provide clear next steps to help you continue to grow as a preacher.

Comment below with questions or observations. And feel free to share this with others using the menu at the bottom of the screen.

Thanks for the opportunity to help you get the most out of your preaching!

How To Build A Sermon Preparation System

Consistency or talent?

If you know Aesop's Fable about the tortoise and the hare, you can see the power of consistency.

But consistency is hard to find in pastoral ministry.

We don't exactly work 9-5, do we?

So a lot of us rely on talent instead.

When it comes to preaching, our busy schedules leave us scrambling to find time to be ready for the weekend.

Why do we settle for this? And what can you do about it?

How To Build A Sermon Planning System

Do you know where you're going?

An annoying question when your wife asks you. Especially when you're obviously lost :-)

But knowing where you're going is one of the secret weapons of preaching.

And it doesn't get enough attention. Which is too bad because it goes a long way in determining whether you keep your head above water.

Or drown.

How do you do this? How do you plan ahead and avoid living sermon-to-sermon, or series-to-series?

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