When creating a sermon, where do I start?
Some songs are created with lyrics first, then the melody is added. Other songs like Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” started as a melody he heard in his dream. He woke up and quickly played the tune on a piano before forgetting it.
When creating a sermon, where do we start?
Like songwriting, sermons can have different starting points. Here are three starting points I use:
1. Start with a text
The text is a great starting point. Think of the text as a treasure box where you’ll find your main point, helpful content, and ways to honor Jesus. If you need help picking a text read this, How To Pick A Text For Your Sermon.
2. Start with a need
Jesus saw needs and gave solutions with compassion. It’s easy to be a fault-finder and criticize, complain, or condemn, but it takes going the extra mile to find solutions. Are there tough questions listeners are asking? Are there real needs in the congregation that need real answers and solutions? Think of the need as a lunching pad into the Scriptures to find solutions and answers.
Sometimes you’ll pick a need that demands more time to grasp before preaching it. If that happens, pause that sermon for now, and pick a different text or need you’re more familiar with.
3. Start with your notes
Taking notes with an app or a notepad is especially important if you’re preaching weekly and want to keep your sermon content fresh. There is no substitute for personal time studying God’s Word. I carry a small notebook with me and have an app for taking notes wherever I go, because, like Chuck Norris, you never know when inspiration will strike. Think of notes as a storage unit where you store up good things for future sermons. While studying the Bible, reading a book, news article or watching Netflix, if I find content that will help the congregation or content that honors Jesus, I take notes. Before giving a godly message, we must hear it. Before standing up to the pulpit we must sit at the feet of Jesus.
Sometimes I’ll study for a sermon all week and won’t seem to discover the main point until early Sunday morning. It reminds me that having the best sermon prep questions, having the best commentaries, and having the best study habits, doesn’t replace my need for Jesus. I need his help to see beyond what I can physically see. I love David's prayer, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18)
You can start with a text, a need, or your notes. The important thing is to start.