After preaching yesterday, I realized that over the years I’ve developed a routine I follow almost every time I preach. This is in addition to the process of studying and writing my sermon notes.
It includes steps between finishing my main sermon preparation and actually preaching the sermon, and a few post-preaching steps also. Some actions are intentional and other just happen.
This ritual is my way of depending on God, familiarizing myself with my message, and getting mentally and physically ready to preach the Word. It could be compared to an athlete “getting in the zone” before a big event.
Here is the ritual in three stages, all built around the preaching event. This is based on Sunday morning preaching. I adapt it to fit other situations.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Print out or finish handwriting the final draft of my sermon notes.
Make solid pink circles in the left margin with a highlighter indicating when to advance PowerPoint slides. (I advance my own slides. I’ve seen too many PowerPoint fiascoes to entrust it to someone else.)
Highlight main points with pink . Underline other key statements with pink.
Highlight Scripture I will read with yellow, including references we will turn to, phrases from the preaching text I will repeat, and selections from other passages I will quote.
Read through my notes, underlining with a black fountain pen or gel pen to connect my mind to the ideas and to mark phraseology and emphasis for speaking. Also write in additional ideas and cross out what I decide to omit.
Place the Bible marker ribbon at the page of my preaching text. Place other marker ribbons as needed. (My Bible has three!)
Retire early enough to get a full night’s rest.
THE MORNING OF
Rise at least 3 hours before I leave the house.
Brew strong pour over coffee with my Chemex and fill my 10 ounce Yeti tumbler.
Kneel in my quiet place and pray through my Prayer List for Preaching.
Talk through my message to familiarize my mind and mouth with the wording and smooth out as needed.
Fold my notes, leaving a ¼ inch overlap for easy opening later, and put them in my leather Bible case along with my preaching Bible.
Put the Bible case, my Unique Planner, and a bottle of water in my book bag.
Shower, dress, eat a good breakfast, and drive.
Verbalize a prayer of dependence and thanks while walking from my car to the building.
Fellowship and worship.
Drink most of the bottle of water during the first part of the service.
Mentally offer one more prayer of dependence during the song before the sermon.
Open the Word and preach it.
Silently give a prayer of thanks and commit to God the ongoing work of the Word in people’s lives.
Finish the water left in my bottle.
Fellowship and leave.
Sometime later, arrange the sermon note pages back in order and pass them to my administrative assistant to record and file.
What’s your preaching ritual?
4 thoughts on “MY PREACHING RITUAL”
I’m not preaching regularly now, but still have much of my routine from when I did. I didn’t always use PowerPoint, but did use it often enough to be convinced, like you, that I needed to advance my own slides.
Part of my routine with PowerPoint was that I discovered redundancies between my notes and the slides. So I started to cut some points out of my notes and reference the slide instead. This requires a setting where you can see your own slides while you use them, though. An advantage of this method is that we look at the slides together rather than me speaking and sort of visually competing with my slide.
Whole books could be written on using PowerPoint well with expositional preaching. I’ve seen it done poorly more often than done well, but I have seen it done well . . . and I think I do it pretty well also. (Most common mistake: not advancing your own slides; close second: too much detail. You don’t need every point up there and you don’t need complete sentences full of parenthetical phrases and adjectives and adverbs. The slide is a reinforcer and engager. It’s not a book for the audience to read while you preach.)
One of the elements of my ritual is the last reading of my notes with highlighter and pen in hand a few hours before the message– less to do if I have access to a color printer. I like to color code application sections, illustrations, and–in more informal settings–questions I plan to ask and get audience answers and discussion. Additional portions of Scripture are in red. Applications are in green. Q&A is blue.
Usually, I don’t look at my notes much. Having done all that, it’s pretty well loaded into memory, and a few glances to keep me on track and maybe advance a slide is about it. Focus is on the audience and connecting with them. Part of my prep is lots of stuff in mind that I cut from the planned delivery. Adapting to what’s happening in the room, some of that makes it back in while other bits are left out… and totally unexpected things happen as well. It’s always a thrill to have an insight click into place during a sermon that didn’t fall into place during the prep! I think it’s a good idea to stay open to that.
Aaron, Ditto on your PowerPoint thoughts. I love your color-coding approach. Thanks for sharing your ritual!
What’s your workflow for preparing a sermon, Dr. Taylor?
Read text numerous times
Translate if NT
Structural study – diagram, or plot the narrative, or poetical structure
Study grammar and key words
Formulate text idea and exegetical outline
Formulate sermon idea and sermon structure
Consult commentaries and other resources
Develop explanation, illustration, argumentation, application
Write rough draft
Revise or write final draft
Thanks for asking!