Advice On Writing Your First Sermon

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Quatchu

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm trying to prepare to write a sermon. I preached once before, however I try not to count it as it did not go well had no structure and really drew from too many passages. I put it together with really no understanding of what I was doing. I now have another opportunity to preach further more my discovery of the doctrines of grace has really given me passion for the Word.

I was hoping to find some advice for some one attempting one of there first sermons. If there is a book or passage that is general considered good for new preachers to start from. Any tips, or comment would be appreciated.
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
Pray. Pray. Pray.

When preparing don't try to do too much.
When outlining, outline the sermon, not the passage.
Assuming that you'll use either notes or a manuscript, memorize the introduction and proposition.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
DITTO to the praying above (FIRST, MIDDLE, and LAST) Pick a verse or passage. What is the big idea of that passage the writer is trying to get across? How does this big idea apply to me and to my hearers (Filling this out may be helpful: [FONT=&quot]That my hearers would: believe, become, feel, value, desire, discern, do _______.”)[/FONT]? By hearing your sermon, how do you want them to respond? How do I get across the big idea in a way that communicates the passage in a structured way (outline)? Develop outline. ALWAYS do the body before introduction or conclusion (though I don't always), but this should help. Write out a manuscript to help you organize your ideas in how you want to present it (though you don't have to take the manuscript into the pulpit).
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
When outlining, outline the sermon, not the passage.

Is this a common mistake? Now that I think of it, it seems like new preachers often just outline the passage. Can you expand, please?
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
When outlining, outline the sermon, not the passage.

Is this a common mistake? Now that I think of it, it seems like new preachers often just outline the passage. Can you expand, please?

I've seen this with some preachers that are not so young as well, with the sermon being little more than a running commentary on the passage.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ditto to what Curt and Andrew have said. I would add, what text has been working in your heart? You aren't preaching a series; you're preaching a single sermon, so utilize what has been burning in your heart. Then, whatever you do, don't seek to 'preach Calvinism' from the passage --- preach the passage. Let it drive your preaching of the text, don't read your theology back into it, and seek to find predestination in every passage, so-to-speak. (A lot of newly Reformed guys do this, & they mishandle the text.) Preach the heart of the text, not just true things from the text. Then, follow what Andrew & Curt said.

Is this a common mistake? Now that I think of it, it seems like new preachers often just outline the passage. Can you expand, please?

A homiletical outline is not the same as an exegetical outline. You can break up the passage and outline it, but that is not your sermon outline. The homiletical outline is the product of your exegesis, NOT your exegesis. It ought to get to the heart of the text and explain it to the people.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
I preached once before, however I try not to count it as it did not go well had no structure and really drew from too many passages.

Hey brother, it counted. You can't change history: You preached a sermon... maybe not one you're proud of, but you still preached it. Own your first sermon and learn from it.
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
Is this a common mistake? Now that I think of it, it seems like new preachers often just outline the passage. Can you expand, please?

When I saw this I was ready to jump in with a response, but the guys above have done a good job explaining. You don't want a running commentary, you want a sermon that preaches a point.
 

sdesocio

Puritan Board Freshman
I'd recommend you pick up Haddon Robinson's Biblical Preaching. That was the starting place for homiletics at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and I found it to provide an incredibly helpful framework.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
As others have said, don't try to preach all the great things you've learned since the last time. You'll try to do too much and it'll be disjointed again. Instead, preach from the passage. Some of what you've recently learned will apply. But don't force in a bunch of stuff (even if it's very good stuff) that doesn't fit the passage.

Besides some things others have already mentioned, I do two exercises that take about an hour or two total:

1. Brainstorm through the passage. Once I know the passage well enough that I understand its central message, I determine a core verse or two. Then I start writing out in one-sentence thoughts a list of everything I can think of that this verse says about God and my life with him. At some point it gets hard to come up with new insights, but I do not stop until I've filled a sheet of paper with at least 30-40 thoughts.

2. Edit without mercy. Then I look through my list for the two or three best insights, not only those most central to the passage but also those that seem to most poignantly apply to life. These are my sermon points. Everything else, as good as it may be, I set aside so I can focus the sermon on what is strongest. A good sermon speaks from the passage but doesn't try to say everything the passage might say.

Then I filter everything else I might want to include—stuff gleaned from context and commentaries and life observations—through the test of whether or not it supports my main points. I've found this helps the sermon's structure and focus.

I may modify this a bit depending on the type of biblical literature I'm dealing with, especially with narrative passages where it's sometimes harder to pick out a single key verse. But I still brainstorm, then edit and exclude. Works for me.
 
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