1. What is your method of sermon preparation?
Whenever I am asked to summarize my own method of preparation, I mention the following points, which I learned from an old minister when I was still a theological student. Five steps or pointers that I like to keep in mind: think yourself empty, read yourself full, write yourself clear, pray yourself hot, and be yourself, but don’t preach yourself. These pointers help keep me focused from beginning to end.
Aside from the essential empowering of the Holy Spirit, if there is one single aspect of sermon preparation that is most closely tied to fluency of speech and impact in delivery, it is this: Freedom of delivery in the pulpit depends upon careful organization in the study. A good teacher clears the way, declares the way, and then gets out of the way.
2. What role does prayer play in the life of a preacher?
There is no change of fire in the pews if there is an iceberg in the pulpit; and without personal prayer and communion with God during the preparation stages, the pulpit will be cold. When the apostles did some reorganization of the early church, it was because they realized how crucial it was for them to give themselves continually to “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). To borrow from the marriage ceremony, it is imperative that “what God has joined together, no man should put asunder.” We dare not divorce our preaching from our praying.
3. Where do you prefer to study for sermons?
For the past twenty years, my study has been in the church building. As our pastoral team has grown and as the busyness of the office has increased, I have created what I refer to as “the cave.” Some of my colleagues seem able to study well for short periods of time. However, once I get airborne, I need to stay there for long stretches.