LECTURE 17 ON SERMON PREPARATION Preparation

Preparation should be done in seclusion. It should involve constant study.  This requires an AM-PM organization. What did I do? I had a study at home and did almost all of my work before 12:00 PM so that I was free to visit and help in the afternoon. Visits were mostly with the disabled and sick and retirees in the afternoon. The evenings were for meetings which were part of nearly every pastor’s job description, evangelism, and contacts with working families. You can organize the study time around your own personal schedule, but you must have time alone.

Broadus emphasizes that special preparation is something that takes place in the study. First is the incubation of ideas, which presumes that you are not in a continuing study, and then is the selection of the texts. Then write down everything that you know and understand about these texts, and then consult the books. Then comes the theme and the outline, followed by a rehearsal of the content either silently or verbally. To me the most critical part is the determination of the theme and the outline because this is the key to the logical and emotional force of the message. If this is not done well, much else will be in vain. These are only suggestions because everyone must find his own pattern or procedure.

In referring to special sermons Broadus treats many categories, most of which I am sure you are familiar. I firmly believe that the biggest challenge is when you are called to the funeral of an unbeliever.  The funerals of believers are times of sorrow, but also of rejoicing., In the case of believers it will be your pleasure to point out the promises of Scripture. In the case of unbelievers you must be extremely sensitive in presenting the Gospel in a way that does not immediately offend them. Academic and anniversary situations demand two things. First a boldness to declare the truth and then to have a sensitive approach to the occasion.

The revival sermons section in Broadus eludes me. I am not sure how many churches still hold what they call “revivals,” as opposed to evangelistic meetings, but I think that in true revivals services we are mostly preaching to the choir and we ought to be saying whatever we think every Sunday. Revival meetings seem to be more popular in the southern United States. Evangelistic services are different in focus, but every sermon ought to be intrinsically, but not necessarily overtly, evangelistic.  The preacher should always be aware of the fragility of life and the importance of communicating God’s grace to the congregation. And then there are sermons to children. We had a nursery school and kindergarten in our Church. Every year the director called upon me to come for the graduation and speak. It was the most terrifying and difficult part of my ministry. But it was good. It tested my ability to communicate with the kids. I communicated God’s grace and truth to my own children all the time but I had to learn to do it in a public setting.  In our services  in Pennsylvania we had a unique philosophy, In the early service we had a children’s sermon, and in the later service we had children’s church.. As is often the case, to the chagrin of the preacher, a few adults in the early service said they got more out of the Children’s sermon than the regular message.