Several people have asked me about the process of writing a sermon. Most people have no idea what it takes to come up with the words I say on Sunday. Each concept is carefully crafted, and ideas are molded for the greatest clarity and impact.
There are two significant parts to writing a sermon that people should know if they ever plan on teaching the Bible in any way to anyone. The second part is the crafting of words into a lesson, outline, or movement of ideas. The first part is the most important of all Bible teaching and preaching.
The first is a deep dive into a text. I try to build every sermon on one primary passage from the Bible. Over a week, I read and reread what the scripture actually records. I will also read the surrounding material for proper context. Next, I will read commentaries explaining the historical background, original languages, cross-references, and any details I missed. I try to look at 3-5 commentaries for each passage. Third is the process of thinking a passage through Biblically and theologically. The primary question is, “how does what I am going to say fit into the whole of scripture?” Finally, I pray that God will help me assemble my thoughts and inspire me creatively as I try to be true to the passage’s meaning.
The reason I wanted to explain this is that I have heard a few awful sermons lately. Each time it is clear the preacher did not wrestle mentally with the passage they were presenting. Instead, I heard that they had an idea of something they wanted to say, then they grabbed a few texts that sounded like they applied and threw it all together. It is what is officially known as “proof-texting.” Basically, it is having a concept and using the Bible as proof that the idea is correct.
Unfortunately, this is not good preaching, and it is worse for people who need to understand what the Bible actually teaches.
I am not saying that I am a perfect preacher or Bible teacher. However, I know that the first goal of everyone who encounters the scriptures is to apply proper rules of interpretation to arrive at the intended meaning. Without that, the rest is just opinions and nice stories and not the word of God.