The Question You Must Ask Yourself Before You Preach

Before you begin to write down your own thoughts for your next sermon, you HAVE to answer this question: What’s my burden for my congregation?

The Question You Must Ask Yourself Before You Preach

This is really the starting point for every sermon. What is my burden for my congregation? What would their lives look like if they applied what you will preach?

What do you mean by burden?

Your burden is that idea, action, or take-away that motivates you to pray intense prayers. It should be something that will change people’s lives if they choose to apply your bottom-line. Your burden could be, if you lack love, you lack everything. It could be, Jesus is calling you to lose your life in Him. Are you going to get lost? Do you get what I mean? Your burden is your deepest desire for those who will hear God’s word proclaimed on Sunday.

How do you develop a burden?

It depends. Sometimes your burden will begin with the text of Scripture. Other times it will begin with the circumstances that are surrounding your congregation. If you are not used to listening, it’s time to start. As a preacher, I have no doubt that you can talk, but I do doubt whether or not you are a good listener. In order to truly develop a burden that is God-honoring, you must learn to listen. You must listen to God’s word and the people He has entrusted to you to minister to. Odds are, if you are listening to both God’s word and your people, your burden will be made known to you.  It should be clarified: you have to go to God in prayer for the burden of the message you share. Wherever the burden starts, though, one thing is for sure: you must have it.

How does this work practically?

Everything in your sermon should lead to the burden. If you begin preparing your message and find that you are going down rabbit trails, stop, focus, delete, and then continue on. If you have a genuine burden for the people, it will show through when you deliver your sermon. People will see that what you are sharing is important, significant, and life-changing.

Your outline should be organized around this burden. Your bottom-line, tweetable statement, main point, or whatever you decide to call it should be the application that came out of your burden.

Your illustrations should be focused on further clarifying the burden and necessity for change in each person’s life. If an illustration doesn’t contribute to that, cut it and use it in a different sermon.

Preaching With a Burden

When you preach with a burden for your congregation, your words become convicting. God uses you in a mighty way. What He has done inside of you is likely going to happen inside of your hearers.

Your message will have life in it. You won’t struggle to remember your sermon and you’ll be able to preach with less focus on your notes. This will allow you to be much more engaging.

Every time you sit down to prepare a new sermon, ask yourself the question, “What is my burden for my congregation?”

Before you preach this Sunday’s message ask yourself, “what is my burden for my congregation?”

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 You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.


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