How I Prepare for Messages

I get this question quite a bit, so I thought I would let you in on a process that you might not know much about (or care about). Over at Behind the Leaf, I talk about the process of creating our one year teaching calendar, so I know what topics are coming well in advance.

After we have a topic, I really pray and think hard on what the one driving idea will be. I work very hard to make it simple, yet profound. In general, I don’t like having lots of points in a message, because people can’t process all that. I go for clarity, not just a bunch of content. I arrive at this big idea from reading a bunch of Scripture on the subject, and realize that it’s not possible to say everything there is to be said on a subject.

After I have the big idea, I continue reading relevant passages in the Bible, generally settling on one that will serve as the focal point. I’ll then read that in a bunch of different translations. King James, NIV, NLT and the Message. This just helps me get the meaning of the passage in my heart.

After that, I will begin writing down thoughts and points. At this point, I’ll look in my books and commentaries. I have a set of New American Commentaries that I really like, I and I read a ton of books. On some messages, I’ll read 2-3 books. After that, I will search around through some websites and see what other people have to say on the subject. This is usually the last step, because I want to make sure the message comes from God and not somebody’s podcast.

For every message I do, I probably have twice as much content as I actually use. I cut out everything that doesn’t have to do with the one point. I usually have one short page of notes, but the message is in my heart and my head, not just on a sheet of paper. By the time I get up to teach God’s Word, I’ve internalized the message so I can teach from my heart.

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