How 6 Faithful, But Not-Famous Pastors Prepare Their Sermons

Last week I surveyed how long well known pastors – like Keller, Piper, and Driscoll – take to prepare their sermons. The discussion in the comments was fantastic. One commenter, Andrew, posted an interesting thought: “This was really interesting. I’d also be interested to hear a similar breakdown from faithful, small church pastors. May give […]

The Number of Hours Keller, Piper, Driscoll (and 5 Others) Spend on Sermon Prep

There are various opinions on how long it should take someone to prepare their sermon for Sunday. There are minimalists, maximalists, and everything in between. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it should comfort you to know that well known preachers span the entire spectrum. So how long do well known preachers take to […]

2 Things You Must Do with Your Sermons

Yesterday I started writing a monthly blog post for Christianity.com. I’m grateful to Alex Crain for the opportunity to be a part of their awesome team of bloggers. Here’s an excerpt of my first article, “Two Things You Must Do with Your Sermons.” Click here to read the whole thing. As you drive home from church […]

5 Surprising Reasons Expository Preaching Makes Sermon Prep Easy

Many pastors today go for shortcuts when it comes to preparing sermons. Such backstreets include swiping sermons from other preachers, visiting websites with prefabricated sermons, or purchasing Bibles with sermon outlines right in them. These pastors don’t realize their shortcuts lead to a dead end alley. With their back to an unexpected brick wall, these […]

How to Preach Like Phil Ryken and Duane Litfin Without Sounding Like Them

Ever wondered how to preach like a Wheaton College president? This spring, Phil Ryken and Duane Litfin each gave a seminar on preaching for our pastors and pastoral residents at my church. Both men are seasoned and gifted preachers, in addition to being the current and former presidents of Wheaton College, respectively. Each presentation was […]

Be Quick to Reread, Slow to Outline, and Slow to Read Commentaries

Busy pastors must always fight the tendency to crank out sermons. The signs that you are preparing a sermon in crank out mode are manifold. You read your passage through once or twice. As you read, you look immediately for application. You divide the text up into its parts, not to break down the author’s […]

Build an Illustration File That’s Easy to Use with Evernote

Has the time and effort of building and using an illustration file caused you to stop using yours? Is that the reason you haven’t bothered to put an illustration file together in the first place? Yet the merits of having illustrations filed away can’t be overstated. Having them on hand is much easier than thinking […]

A Quick Way to Accurately Preach Jesus From the OT

It is difficult to accurately preach Jesus from the Old Testament. One danger is to over-spiritualize the OT with the result that you allegorize the passage. But another danger lurks for those who conscientiously avoid allegorizing. That mistake is to always move toward the gospel in the exact same way. In order to avoid both […]

Do You Know Your Proper Place of Authority in the Church?

Who has more authority: the pastor or a commentary author? The pastor or a theologian? The pastor or what he preaches? In preparation for my Ordination Council this Sunday, I have been reading Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrim’s on the Way. Any of you who are following me on Twitter […]

6 Rules for Using Quotes in Sermons

When you use a quote in a sermon, do you have a reason, or do you use quotes because pastors are “supposed to”? Do you quote with intentionality? Perhaps the best question of all: do you waste a ton of time digging through magazines, commentaries, and puritan paperbacks looking for just the right quote for […]

5 Resources to Check Out to Improve Your Application in Your Sermons

A reader emailed me last week with a question about doing application in sermons. I bet many preachers have the same question as Glenn (published with his permission): Hi Eric, I read your post about preaching like Mark Driscoll without sounding like him. You mentioned that Driscoll’s applications are very specific, and I’m wondering if you could […]

5 Quick Things to Consider When You Are Stuck Writing a Sermon

You just finished studying your sermon passage. You’re ready to make the transition from hermeneutics to homiletics. But you’re stuck. You’re not quite sure how to proceed with your sermon. One solution may be to determine what kind of sermon you want to preach. What do you want to accomplish with this sermon? John Stott […]

The Anatomy of an Ineffective Sermon

If you try to write an effective sermon in as little time as possible, you’ll end up with an ineffective sermon. Darryl Dash has an article on “Six Keys to Poor Preaching.” Each key is a shortcut. You can’t write an effective sermon if you’re going for a personal best time. But here are six ways […]

Preach a Sermon Your Audience Can Actually Follow

The famous philosopher, Jack Handy, once said, “The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.” While we are preaching, the faces of our people can say it all, in particular, whether or not they have a clue what we are saying. We justify ourselves by blaming it […]

Introductions: 3 Things That Will Get Your Sermon Off to an Effective Start

90 seconds is all you get. You get 90 seconds to convince your listeners that the next 35 minutes will be worth their undivided attention. Jokes will keep their attention as long as you’re funny. Stories will keep their attention as long as you’re interesting. But sooner or later (hopefully not later), you have to […]

Are You Overlooking the Most Essential Element of an Effective Sermon?

I’m incurably skinny. I rocked a 6 foot, 145 pound frame in college. One time I broke the 150 mark, but it took lifting till I ached and eating till I wanted to puke. Then I lost all seven pounds during summer break, since I lost my access to a gym. Ever feel that way […]

A New Series Starts Tomorrow: The Anatomy of An Effective Sermon

Have you ever walked up to the pulpit with (what you thought was) an awesome sermon, only to preach it to disinterested gazes? Have you ever walked up to the pulpit with (what you thought was) a lame sermon, only hear several responses of, “That really blessed me, pastor!” Don’t our people know an effective […]

5 Ways to Create Interest When You Do Exegesis in Sermons

In your preaching, how many times have you tried to communicate an amazing exegetical insight, only to watch the eyes of your audience steadily glaze over? You thought you had them, but you lost them. We have all been there, more often than we’ll admit. The solution is not more illustrations and less exegesis, at […]

Use Thematic Outlines to Grasp the Big Picture of a Book of the Bible

I don’t usually feel helped by the outlines of books of the Bible that I find in commentaries, Bible dictionaries, or study Bibles. They’re usually too general and rarely identify a theme that summarizes the whole book. The outlines I find most helpful are what I call thematic outlines. They do two things: 1) state […]

5 Characteristics of Constantly Improving Preachers

What tricks have you tried to make your preaching better? Writing more interesting introductions? Stating your your main point more memorably? Is it actually working? Ironically, I have found that the more I try to preach better, the worse I do. But the more I just try to preach, the better I do. In other words, […]

How To Set Up Your Files for Efficient and Effective Sermon Prep

This is the fourth article in a series on How to Get Organized in Pastoral Ministry. Don’t forget to read articles one, two, and three! When it comes to filing, there are two kinds of pastors in the world. Black hole filers keep everything, but the stuff will never see light again. Anti-filers don’t file […]

Get Rid of Inefficient Sermon Prep with Preaching Templates, Part 2

One reason we prepare sermons inefficiently is because we get stuck. Either our mind somehow wanders off, or we lose momentum between steps. That’s why preaching templates help. Its headings focus your attention on the task at hand, gliding you from step to step. The exegesis template focused on figuring out the text. This one guides us […]

Get Rid of Inefficient Sermon Prep with Preaching Templates, Part 1

Could you say that you have your sermon preparation process nailed down? Ever since my first preaching class, I’ve searched for the method that “works for me” like a pimply faced teenager goes through acne medication regimens. I’ve seen blemishes disappear here and there over the years, but I have finally found something that really works. […]