1. I print out the biblical text and carry it with me throughout the week.
2. I meditate on the text. I read it over and over and over. I let it get into me. As I am doing this, God speaks to me. I write down what God says to me.
3. I ask these questions:
a. What is the text saying?
b. What is the text saying to me?
c. What will this text say to our people?
4. I study the text.
a. I use biblical commentaries.
b. The rule is: not just any commentary will do. Find trusted Jesus-following scholars who have invested their lives in studying the text. I have a list of trusted names. For suggestions, see
c. When God speaks to me while I am studying the commentaries, I write it down.
d. I take notes on the commentaries. These notes appear in my sermon notes.
5. As I am doing these two things – meditation on the text, and study of the text – I type out the sermon, often word-for-word, that God wants to speak through me.
6. I take these notes and walk with them…, reading them over and over… take drives in the car with them… go to the state park overlooking Lake Erie and preach them. It always happens that, while doing this, God preaches to me. This gets emotional for me. I feel passion building towards the text, and what God has said, and what God is saying to me, and what God is going to say on Sunday morning.
7. When I preach on Sunday morning, I want to know that I have given my entire self to preparing for this message. I never step up to preach without having given it my all. Average sermon preparation time each week is 10-20 hours. (Because, I cannot get away from it. It consumes me!)
8. I feel a holy responsibility in preaching. I do not want to lead my people in the wrong direction. Therefore I study long and hard. And, I pray the text,
9. I always have the expectation that God is going to show up, and make my mere human words into words from Him, for us all.
10. With my focus on meditating on the text, and studying the text, and praying the text, my belief is that God, in the sermon, will give me and my people words from Him that are rooted in Scripture but provide extrabiblical revelation – viz., “now-words from God.”
11. As I preach, I give God the right to lead me, even into things that I have not yet thought of. Usually, God does a fair amount of slicing and dicing my message into His message.
12. If my people are spoken to by God, rather than being impressed with some “great sermon,” then I know the real thing has happened.
13. I assume and expect God will do something through the preached Word. I am alert and attuned to this. Sometimes, even while preaching the message, I don’t know what God will do when the message is done. At other times I have a strong sense of what God wants to do, and I lead my people in this. In no way do I think I’m going to end the message with an “Amen” and then say “We’re out of here.” The preached word is going to bear fruit in people’s lives, immediately. The preacher needs to respond to this, and lead their people.