How to Prepare a Message
– C.S. Lewis: “Don’t just tell people how to feel, describe in such a way that people feel it themselves.”
As ministers it is our God-called duty to “Feed the sheep” (John 21:15-17). Notice the Scripture reads “feed” not “beat.” To do this we must deliver a message that we not only prayed and fasted over, but one that has been studied and well-prepared. Here are a few suggestions to help ensure a properly prepared message:
- Prayerfully choose a (singular) topic. First, ask God to attend His Word — to pursue and own it to the hearts and minds of His people. Pray also that He will use it to move and shape the preacher himself. Then pick one topic. Often, preachers try to cover too many topics in one sermon, leaving the listener confused. Stay with your main subject and try not to chase too many rabbits. When you stray, it’s difficult to get back on point.
- Research your topic. Again, begin with prayer as you study. Fervently seek the Lord for knowledge and an understanding of the Word. Moses prayed, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory” (Exodus 33:18). And Eli instructed Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (1Samuel 3:9). Then take time to research and study your subject matter. The Scriptures admonish us to: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). G. Campbell Morgan said that before he preached from a passage of Scripture he read that entire book 50 times.
- Prayerfully form an outline and prepare your approach. Every sermon is prepared differently. Some messages are better written out and some need bullet points, while others need only the verses jotted down. However, to effectively deliver a message one should include:
A) A Catchy Title. A title is very important to a message. An effective title awakens the listener’s emotions so the listener is more apt to pay attention to the message. Also, repeating the title throughout the sermon reminds the listener of the topic and helps them to stay focused.
B) An Introduction. Inform the listener what your message is about and where you plan to take them with your delivery. Also, lay down the foundation of your message. This is where to give backgrounds, settings, and the history of your research.
C) A Body (main points, transitions, and illustrations). This is the principle part or the “meat” of your speech or message—it is where you deliver exactly what God has given you to preach. Make every point and tell every story but remember, when you are finished quit talking and let God do His work!
D) A Conclusion. Wrap up your thoughts and end your message. Try to bring everything you have said to a clear and concise ending.
4. Practice preaching the message. Preach the message aloud to yourself and become comfortable with your delivery. Listen to yourself preach and practice enunciating each word. Also, make sure you don’t use too big of words. You want your listeners to understand what you are saying, so refrain from preaching over them.
5. Preach with anointing and conviction. Someone once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Be passionate and compassionate about what you preach. Charles Spurgeon noted: “The kind of sermon which is likely to break the hearer’s heart is that which first has broken the preacher’s heart, and the sermon which is likely to reach the heart of the hearer is the one which has come straight from the heart of the preacher.”
Pray for and expect God’s anointing to deliver the message God gives you. Remember, you are not called to preach your opinions, but charged to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
“Sheep that are well fed seldom wander off.” (Wes Baker)