Pastor J.D. shares his process for developing his weekly sermons, from research to manuscript and everything in between.

A glimpse inside this episode: 

  • Research
      1. Big picture—picking the content of the entire sermon series. This happens anywhere from 3 to 6 months prior to the start of a particular series.
        • I consult with several key church leaders to determine what to preach. (I let a lot of people speak into my process, from the very beginning even through the weekend I’m preaching.)
        • We ask questions like: What parts of Scripture have we not preached recently? What is going on in our church that requires pastoral leadership? What has God been teaching me and our leaders?
      2. Alternate between book-by-book (Old Testament and New Testament) and then occasional topical series.
        • Both are faithful methods.
        • John Stott on the preacher’s role as steward’s (cooking for the kids, etc.)
      3. Listening to communicators and how they present the material
  • From research to outline
    1. If I’m preaching through the book of Judges, I’ll read the book a dozen times. I want to get it into my blood.
      • My weekly pattern
        • Monday (initial research and rough draft)
        • Tuesday (fill out the draft)
        • Wednesday (feedback from campus pastors)
          • Sermon ends up being preached to the 10 people the pastor met with that week, so we want to expand that net
        • Thursday (flesh out the draft, incorporate changes based on feedback)
        • Friday (generally let it sit and not fuss with it too much)
        • Saturday (some last minute additions before my first sermon)
  • Do you preach from the outline or do you use a full manuscript?
    1. I wouldn’t necessarily advise this for everyone, but I write out my sermon outline almost word-for-word, so that it is written down just as I would preach it.
      • The reason I say I wouldn’t advise this is that most people don’t write exactly how they speak. So when they try to do a full transcript, their preaching ends up sounding like someone reading a position paper. (Even though I say this to guys all the time, most people end up trying to do what I do. My advice would be: don’t.)
    2. Of course, anyone familiar with my outlines will recognize that there are certain illustrations, stories, and points that I don’t write out completely. Many times I’ll just need a word or two (“Karate Kid”) that makes perfect sense to me but would be essentially nonsense for someone who happened to pick up a manuscript later.



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