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?