Stewardship & Sermon Prep

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Posts 611
Graham Owen | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 18 2010 2:09 PM

Like many others the time that I need or indeed have for sermon preparion varies, sometimes I have to cram because other demands take my time and balancing the time needed to prepare sermons with other pastoral responsibilities is often a challenge. When working on series I find that the introduction takes the most time but the rest tend to require significanltly less.

Mark Barnes:
the more time I spend in preparation, the shorter the sermon get

This is something that I definitely find is true, when preaching in services where time is limited I need to spend extra time ensuring that I touch all of the key points. If I did keep records I would probably find that the shorter sermons require more hours per minute of preparation than the longer ones.

I also feel that it is important to keep a good balance between the study that I undertake for personal growth and that which is required for sermons. Some of my personal study will often get reused later in sermon preparation something that I believe is a result of the Holy Spirit equipping me to meet the future needs of the congregation.

God Bless

Graham

Pastor - NTCOG Basingstoke

Posts 2994
Forum MVP
Jacob Hantla | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 18 2010 4:11 PM

Generally, as I move verse by verse (chapter by chapter) through a book I have identified my "favorite" and most helpful commentators. Those are the ones that I read every word of. This generally comes toward the end, after my study has been complete. 

I then move through my passage guide in a skimming fashion. Some commentaries I have learned will simply be unhelpful and I can skip them. Others I skim. Others, I find I need to slow down. I will usually slow down later on. I use the passage guide stars to mark out which ones I want to read and I take quick notes on which commentaries talk about what in the notes section. 

I also stick collections of my favorite authors and journals in my passage guide so I can skim through those as well. 

What I like about this method is that next time I come to the passage I have already done the work of skimming and summarizing my commentaries and I am able to quickly "recreate" my study by observing my saved passage guide.

Jacob Hantla
Pastor/Elder, Grace Bible Church
gbcaz.org

Posts 1216
Matt Hamrick | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 18 2010 6:25 PM

Dan DeVilder:

Matt, knowing the original languages is a great advantage.  But it hardly (for me) removes the need to consult commentaries.  They are not very wise if they claim knowing Greek and Hebrew will solve hermeneutical problems.  That skill will help you be more informed and do more of your own legwork, but not only (as you and others alluded to) will we be lifelong learners of that language, but knowing Greek and Hebrew often opens up more complexities to which I am always looking to more advanced scholars to help deal with them.

You will be in position to help more and understand more, but probably not be in a position to NOT be taught more, whether in person or through a book.

Dan I understand completely what you are saying. I am not the one saying I will never need to consult commentaries. I have said "I have been told" by graduate level students and a couple professors and pastors when I ask the question about learning the original langauges they always say it negates commentary use. Also, it doesn't take knowing the original language to solve hermeneutical problems. It takes understanding hermeneutical rules and applying proper principles to interpret scripture. When all is  done and completed with the hermeneutics, preaching, theology, language, history, surveys, and other classes I take will all tie together nicely to be able to interpret the scripture correctly without the use of a commentary. As I go forth, I am not saying I will never be taught anymore. I hope I am always in a position to learn, especially about Jesus.

 

Posts 376
Dan Sheppard | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 18 2010 6:39 PM

Joe Miller:
I taught using this same approach in my church plant for the past 5 years.

 

So Joe, is that a PRAYER PLANT?  Wink

 

I am doing s study on Matthew.  To begin with for a given week, I of course read the Bible.  Concordia Publishing House has the Lutheran Study Bible, so I have that linked to my ESV.

Once the basics are established (what are we talking about today), I consult Lenski Commentaries, Concordia Commentaries, and the one by Craig Blomberg on Matthew.  For special topics that arise (what is a Nazirite: how does it differ from Nazarene), I look at ISBE, dictionaries, and other reference materials.  I have my Intralinears open, so I can check Greek words, plus I try to include on occasion, a chart showing a photo (church at Capernaum), a table (ancestry of Herod), a map (of Jerusalem during time of Christ), or other visuals.

I include a few questions intermittently, to inquire about how people feel about this and that.

One thing I learned from attendees, is that whatever I am teaching, THEY WANT TO KNOW HOW IT APPLIES TODAY.

When there are cross-references to other books of the Bible, I try to include several, including both OT and NT, plus something from the other 3 Gospels, if appropriate.

I have the people read the Bible lesson, the footnotes (Lutheran Study Bible), but I read a two to three-page handout I produce.

Sometimes I include an excerpt from "Luther's Works", the Book of Concord, or other Lutheran Doctrine.  I am sure that others would use John MacArthur's commentaries, in the same fashion.

About half the people respond to visual aids, while the other half prefer the "nuts and bolts info".

 

 

Posts 8618
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 18 2010 8:39 PM

Blair,

Don't feel bad for not reading all of your relevant resources.  Sometimes I find the nugget (s) I need during my word study.  Sometimes the Bible itself gives me the outline and all I need are some relevant illustrations...AND sometimes I look at the explanation a commentary gives on a certain verse and that really gets the ball rolling for me to assemble the sermon I want.  In the end, you're not wasting your resources, because one of these days, when you least expect it, you may end up finding what you need in one of them (and it will usually be a resource you probably didn't  know you had).  As to the time it takes for sermon or class prep, it all depends.  It may take 1hour or 4hrs or maybe almost your entire week.  If you're working on a particular sermon that you want to preach for a future occasion it may even take a month (s) working on and off on it.  In the end, it's all to the glory of God (whether or not you use all your resources).

Blessings!

Douglas

Posts 1557
Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 18 2010 9:09 PM

Joe Miller:

Blair Laird:
I teach chapter by chapter
Hi Blair, I taught using this same approach in my church plant for the past 5 years.  I have a 6 part video series I did showing what I do each day and how I use Logos in the process.  You can see the intro and links to each part HERE.

Hey Joe,

Do you have any video's of you actually putting your sermon together. On the last video it showed a little bit...

Posts 2793
J.R. Miller | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 7:06 AM

Blair Laird:
Do you have any video's of you actually putting your sermon together. On the last video it showed a little bit...
That is all i have right now.... what specifically would you like to see?

My Books in Logos & FREE Training

Posts 1557
Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 7:47 AM

Joe Miller:

Blair Laird:
Do you have any video's of you actually putting your sermon together. On the last video it showed a little bit...
That is all i have right now.... what specifically would you like to see?

Just how you take the information you gathered, and put it together in a sermon. I have seen so many different ways that people do a sermon. Some just do an outline, others write a verse by verse exposition. I just want to see how you use your notes, and clippings, and form a sermon

 

Posts 287
Jerry Walker | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 1:50 PM

Blair Laird:

Joe Miller:

Blair Laird:
Do you have any video's of you actually putting your sermon together. On the last video it showed a little bit...
That is all i have right now.... what specifically would you like to see?

Just how you take the information you gathered, and put it together in a sermon. I have seen so many different ways that people do a sermon. Some just do an outline, others write a verse by verse exposition. I just want to see how you use your notes, and clippings, and form a sermon

 

Thats exactly what I need help on. I get so much information from L4 but how to put it in the sermon is what Im missing. A lot of good stuff gets left out.

 

Posts 611
Graham Owen | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 2:07 PM

Jerry Walker:
A lot of good stuff gets left out.

Hi Jerry

For me this is normal and is part of the editing process. The key question is what does the congregation need to hear? For me some of the good stuff needs to be allowed to go to the background so the important stuff can dominate the foreground. With the wealth of material that Logos contains there is always a danger that we create an academic paper rather than a sermon.

God Bless

Graham

Pastor - NTCOG Basingstoke

Posts 1557
Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 2:13 PM

Graham Owen:

Hi Jerry

For me this is normal and is part of the editing process. The key question is what does the congregation need to hear? For me some of the good stuff needs to be allowed to go to the background so the important stuff can dominate the foreground. With the wealth of material that Logos contains there is always a danger that we create an academic paper rather than a sermon.

That is very true...It is very easy to do will such a scholarly product..Hopefully, Joe will address some of those issues.

 

Next year L4 will have an upgraded illustration section, so that should help get some of that practical stuff in there.

Posts 114
James Matichuk | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 4:20 PM

Interesting that nobody mentions how much time they devote to prayer in their sermon prep. Not that spending time in resources, commentaries, translations, and original languages are not an important part of exegesis but sermons come alive when the preacher hears from God, not just when the exegete digs out new facts about the text from reading well and broadly. 

Posts 249
Giovanni Baggio | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 6:09 PM

James Matichuk wrote: " but sermons come alive when the preacher hears from God." Hmm Do I smell charismatic? sniff...sniff...sniff...

Correction: The preacher doesn't hear anything from God.  When a preacher prays he talks to God.  God no longer talks to us like He did in times past.  He talks to us through His inspired Word.  Now, I'm sure that just because people didn't mention prayer doesn't mean they don't pray.  Plus, you're not going to pray for two hours before you start preparing your lesson.  You could do it, but it's a personal choice.  Personally I pray to God on Sunday for everything I might get to do during the week and close on Saturday with a prayer...Devil...I mean...Angel...Yes

 

Hebrews 1:1-2,  "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." The Son in turn speaks to us through the Word (John 12:48) which was given to us through the Holy Spirit (1Pet. 1:20-21; cf. 2Ti. 3:16-17).

Anyway...I just hope I misunderstood you when you said "the preacher hears from God..." But given the context, I don't think I did, so correction is needed.  The last thing we need is a charismatic movement going on in the forums.  I would apologize for my bluntness but by now everybody here in the forums knows i'm just a straight forward guy...love me or hate me...LOL

 

Posts 114
James Matichuk | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 6:45 PM

Giovanni, 

If you like to smell charismatics you should probably seek professional help. Sounds like an odd fetish. 

Are you really going to argue that prayerful study is not important? This isn't a charismatic not charismatic issue. It is an issue in need of correction if you think the best you can offer for a sermon is a week of hard work. There are critical scholars who know the text backwards and forward without a confessional bone in their body. Certainly, the primary means by which God communicates is his Word, no argument here. But if your sermon is arrived at solely by reading commentaries, and personal study, it doesn't mean that the word of God has become a part of your life. 

One of my profs at seminary, J.I. Packer (a man who is seldom if ever has been accused of being charismatic), somewhere writes that God's guidance is given to us from the Word and when we doing our best thinking in the posture of prayer.  In my post, I was merely noting that no one has mentioned prayer as part of their sermon prep. You have mentioned that you think prayer is a personal choice (I will resist the need to reciprocate your proof-texting with a bunch of my own on the centrality and importance of prayer). Personally I don't find it optional. You admit to prayer that God will bless what 'you do' and a prayer at the end of the week. Personally this wouldn't cut it for me, as I think that prayer has to do with putting me in the sort of posture where I can hear from God (rest assured in the context of sermon preperation, I hear from God from the Bible, so lets keep the labels to a minimum). If I do not do my study within the context of prayer, I believe I miss cues from God as to how God may be speaking through a particular text to the particular group of people I am speaking too. 

None of this is arguing for shoddy exegesis or shortchanging study time to spend hours in prayer, but it is acknowledging that what happens on Sunday morning isn't about me flexing my exegetical muscles so much as me being a vessel to help communicate what God is saying through His word. I believe you are well read enough, to know that this is not just a 'charismatic' perspective. 

But what would be wrong with a little more openness to the Spirit in sermon preparation (or for that matter in the forums)?

Posts 249
Giovanni Baggio | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 8:19 PM

james, 

how long, how long my child? You wrote: "Are you really going to argue that prayerful study is not important?" I never argued that prayerful study is not important.  On the contrary, it is important, but trust me praying alone will not make your sermon relevant for your listeners.  It is your job to make it relevant, praying only gets u in the reverent mood that will help u concentrate to get the job done, but it's still your job to make a good sermon.  And even if you prayed for 2 hours before working on your sermon that won't make your sermon a good one because perhaps the one preaching doesn't have the talent to preach.  All preachers should work on becoming better presenters of the Word, praying alone will not do, prayer and hard work will.  I'm sure you've heard the story about the little girl that asked her preacher dad "Daddy why do you pray so much?" and the preacher dad replied, "so God can help me preach better sermons so people won't get bored and fall asleep" and to this the little girl asked, "Then why hasn't he helped  you?" LOL funny, but true.  Praying alone will not do it you must do your part by diligently studying and intelligently putting your research together to craft "the perfect sermon." This is what this whole thread is all about...blair asking how to put all the research together.

But I will at least be honest this time...Since u said that:  "Certainly, the primary means by which  God communicates is his Word, no argument here," then I'll let it slip this time...LOL...but what u should do next time is clarify how God speaks or else u leave the impression that u are somehow involved in mysticism (thinking God speaks to you and thereby giving you more revelation than the one that has already been once and for all delivered unto the saints).

Posts 8618
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 8:45 PM

Alright guys, here's the answer to Blair's and Jerry's troubles: http://www.logos.com/product/8493/the-i-beam-of-message-building

You can pre-order that or just order the booklet (which is self explanatory) from MPSeminars: https://www.mpseminars.com/index.cfm/PageID/1312

I'm waiting on the Manual myself.  Can't afford the DVDs for now, though I would prefer the DVD.  

I like Jeremy's videos, but that method is not for me.  Utley's method is too long and complicated IMO.  On Jeremy's videos I will say this: I did learn how to take advantage of the "favorites" feature and how to create and organize my notes a little better for my own and much simpler method of using L4 for sermon preparation.

Warning: MP's I-Beam Manual does not teach how to prep your sermon using L4 it's basically a "How to prepare expository" sermons using Morris' I-Beam analogy.

Blessings!

Douglas

Posts 1557
Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 9:24 PM

Douglas Alvarenga:

Alright guys, here's the answer to Blair's and Jerry's troubles: http://www.logos.com/product/8493/the-i-beam-of-message-building

You can pre-order that or just order the booklet (which is self explanatory) from MPSeminars: https://www.mpseminars.com/index.cfm/PageID/1312

I'm waiting on the Manual myself.  Can't afford the DVDs for now, though I would prefer the DVD.  

I like Jeremy's videos, but that method is not for me.  Utley's method is too long and complicated IMO.  On Jeremy's videos I will say this: I did learn how to take advantage of the "favorites" feature and how to create and organize my notes a little better for my own and much simpler method of using L4 for sermon preparation.

Warning: MP's I-Beam Manual does not teach how to prep your sermon using L4 it's basically a "How to prepare expository" sermons using Morris' I-Beam analogy.

Blessings!

Douglas

I actually pre-pub I beam a month ago, been waiting pretty patiently.. Big Smile.. But was able to take a little from everyone, and put together a pretty decent sermon prep. I am now able to actually look at all my commentaries, but that is because they are broken up in 3 categories (application)(exposition)(exegetical). On day 3 of sermon prep I look at my application commentaries.. Which are very few, logos does not offer very many of these types.. Day 4 I read my expositional commentaries to confirm my historical research from prior day's, and to see if I missed anything. On day 5 I read my exegetical commentaries, which for some reason I have very few of. Maybe I categorized stuff that was exegetical into expositional on accident.. Either way it's ok because the exegetical commentaries I own are very lengthy, so it is good I only have a few of them. I was able to take all of Bob Utley's principles and break it up into a 5 day sermon prep

Posts 114
James Matichuk | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 19 2010 10:12 PM

Giovanni Baggio:

james, 

 On the contrary, it is important, but trust me praying alone will not make your sermon relevant for your listeners.  It is your job to make it relevant, praying only gets u in the reverent mood that will help u concentrate to get the job done, but it's still your job to make a good sermon.  And even if you prayed for 2 hours before working on your sermon that won't make your sermon a good one because perhaps the one preaching doesn't have the talent to preach.  All preachers should work on becoming better presenters of the Word, praying alone will not do, prayer and hard work will.  

 

I never said you should pray for 2 hours before you work on your sermon. I said you should that prayer is a 'part of sermon preparation.' I am sorry if I misrepresented you, but you kind of took it on the offensive. My original reading of your post was you saying that prayer was opitional, I now see that you were simply saying that a 2 hour prayer before you begin your preparation is optional. Fine, personally I couldn't do it. 

 

As the forum is discussing sermon preparation and study of the Biblical text,  I shouldn't have to defend my theology of God's communication ( which making this a sticking point, puts us both in violation of the Logos forum policy). But in the interest in offending your sensibilities, I am charismatic, in that I believe the Spirit is at work in the mind and heart of the believer and gives gifts to His people which enable members of Christ's body to minister to one another and the world.  I ascribe to a sort of mysticism, in that I prescribe that those who know God well, through time spent with him in prayer and the Bible, have wisdom and insight to offer us. I don't put myself in that category. And on a personal note, I think I am a fairly decent, though inexperienced preacher. I think I am naturally wired for exegesis and preaching, but on weeks when I have prayed well, God does something better through my preaching, than on week where I only work hard.

And I repeat, I never said prayer takes the place of exegetical methods. I went to seminary and done exegesis and hermeneutic classes and gratefully apply what I have learned. My own practice is to either go through all the steps in  Fee's New Testament Exegesis or Stuart's Old Testament Exegesis when prepping a sermon. I read widely on my passage from different commentaries and theologians, as well as check the ATLAS serial database at my local theological college for relevant articles. I work hard on sermon form. But I think it is problematic if we don't actually prioritize prayer in the process. Which I take to be a non-controversial point. It's just people who trust their methodology can sometimes forget the spiritual relationship at the core of good pastoral practice. 

 

 

Posts 1680
Jerry M | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 20 2010 4:22 AM

James, I appreciate the graciousness of your words, it is not aways easy to be so gracious when discussing topics that we have strong feelings about.

"For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power"      Wiki Table of Contents

Posts 13423
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 20 2010 4:36 AM

Giovanni Baggio:
praying only gets u in the reverent mood that will help u concentrate to get the job done

I'm genuinely astonished. Here was I thinking that prayer actually worked - that God answered prayer and actually changed things. Now I realise that all prayer does is get me in a reverent mood. Are you going to let the apostle Paul know he was wasting our time, or shall I? (Col. 4:3, 2 Thess 3:1, 1 Tim. 2:8, etc.)

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