5 Pastors Share Their Weekly Sermon Prep Process

It’s interesting how many different ways different pastors prepare their sermons. You may be someone who is trying to find a new way to do sermon prep or you may be someone who is trying to find just a way to do sermon prep.

Wherever you are in your experience in preaching, this article should be helpful to you. You’ll get to see 5 different pastors share what a week of sermon prep looks like for them.

5 Pastors Share Their Weekly Sermon Prep Process

Brandon Kelley

My method has changed fairly frequently. I’ve experimented with a few different things as I am always trying to learn a better way. What is below is what I have found works best out of the things I have tried. In every step, I approach this process in an attitude and posture of prayer. My biggest prayer is that God will push me to the side and that he would take over and simply use me as a tool to accomplish what he would like to do. That is my prayer in sermon prep as well as right before I go up to preach on Sunday.

  • Monday
    • Look at text
    • Begin seeking and praying
    • Let the text simmer – no research
  • Tuesday
    • Research
    • Compile notes in Evernote based on research
    • Begin thinking through potential illustrations
  • Wednesday
    • Determine bottom line – this could change before it’s all said and done
    • Use white board to compile outline of message pre-Scripture (before I get into the main text)
    • Write out full manuscript – using headings to be utilized when I boil down to notes to preach from
  • Thursday
    • Finish manuscript if need be
    • Boil down to what I will preach from – detailed outline
    • Go through sermon (as many times as I can afford to depending on other commitments in the day)
  • Friday
    • Tweak message if need be
    • Go through sermon (as time allows)
    • Send notes to tech team
    • Create slides (Scripture and bottom line – nothing fancy)
  • Saturday
    • Let everything simmer
    • Go through sermon one more time
  • Sunday
    • Preach!

Jonathan Pearson

  • Previous Week:
    • Research key topic… find scripture, stories, etc
  • Monday:
    • Finalize main ideas, key points, and main scriptures
    • research key ideas and themes in Bible Study software (Olive Tree)
  • Tuesday:
    • Put together initial outline using notes from Monday
      often leaving illustrations and final challenge empty while outline “sits”
  • Wednesday:
    • Ignore… as much as possible.
      So I can look with fresh, new eyes Thursday
  • Thursday:
    • Run though initial outline making necessary changes
      • restructuring
      • adding
      • taking away
      • smoothing out transitions
  • Friday & Saturday:
    • Run through without much change to outline
      No changes unless God COMMANDS 🙂 after Friday.
  • Sunday:
    • Preach!

Mike Kjergaard

I usually have my sermons/series planned 6-12 months ahead of time, so I’m not starting from scratch each week. Often, if I’m in a book series (e.g. currently, I’m preaching through the Gospel of Mark), I will do some of the pre-work (overview of book, historical & theological study, etc.) before the series begins. But here is what a typical week looks like:

  • Sunday night
    • begin thinking/praying about next Sunday’s message.
  • Monday
    • usually have meetings, but do preliminary work if possible.
  • Tuesday
    • study text.
    • Jot down my own thoughts before turning to commentaries, etc.
  • Wednesday
    • more study
    • sketch outline.
    • If I am preaching the series with others (2 or 3 times a year, some preacher friends and I preach the same series), I will email them what I have so far.
  • Thursday
    • look for possible illustrations
    • send outline to tech people.
  • Friday
    • tweak if necessary.
  • Saturday
    • let it simmer
  • Sunday
    • Preach!

Aron Kirk

  • Tuesday morning from 7am-noon –
    • Pray and ask God to help me/guide me on this message;
    • Read the Scripture for that week;
    • Read a commentary on the passage (usually David Guzik or Matthew Henry from BlueLetterBible.com);
    • Research key phrases/words in original language (again using Blue Letter Bible.com)
  • Wednesday all day –
    • Pray and ask God to help me and guide me
    • Write entire message (I don’t full manuscript, but rather what I would call an “extended-notation” form; notes but with important sections written out)
  • Thursday morning 7am-noon –
    • Pray and ask God to help me and guide me
    • edit message and practice it (repeat)
  • Sunday morning 5am-7am –
    • final run through and edits
    • Pray for the Holy Spirit to help me speak it and to open hearts to be receptive to it and to apply it accordingly to those hearts!
      • Usually do this after the final run through while driving to the church

This schedule depends on a sermon calendar having been determined in advance (at least a few months out). Without having that, I think I would be too overwhelmed and stressed out to try and figure out the topic/scripture to preach on as well as the research, writing, editing, and practicing!

Joe Hoagland

My process is pretty consistent from week to week. On Monday and Tuesday I am mainly looking for the context of the passage or topic that I am preaching on with commentaries and other sermons.  I then start compiling potential illustrations. On Wednesday I put it all together and on Thursday I work on exactly how I want to present the sermon text I have. I segment a specific portion of time on Saturday night for prayer specific to the sermon and people who are going to hear.

  • Monday
    • Find Passage and start study
  • Tuesday
    • Continue study: consult commentaries and  past sermons, compile illustrations
  • Wednesday
    • Craft sermon text or outline
  • Thursday
    • Work on the Presentation of the content
  • Saturday night
    • Pray for the people about to hear the message, and that I might speak God’s word faithfully

Written by Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Lead Pastor of First Church of Christ in Bluffton, IN. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.


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