Tag: Preaching

Books I’m Currently Using in Ministry

Here are a few books I am using in ministry this Fall. They are all good books but the * indicates an exceptional book:

Hermeneutics Class

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth

How to Read the Bible as Literature


Imagining the Kingdom*

Readers Greek New Testament**



Elder Training

The Ministry of the Spirit-filled Church

The Pastors Justification

Gospel Eldership


Overcoming Sin & Temptation*


How I Prepare a Sermon

It was a lot of fun to sit down with my friend John Chandler & SermonSmith as we discussed how I go about preparing sermons.

In the interview, I kind of sound like I just smoked a joint (although I never have). I’m so relaxed and chill, probably because I’m not passionate about the preaching process, and would rather talk about actual preaching or just preach. I really do like my process, really, and I think there will be some helpful things to others, but in the end everyone has to form their own process. John knows this, and it’s why he is exposing his listeners to so many different types of preachers.

Here are few highlights that John pulled out that we discussed:

  • Weekly rhythms for sermon prep
  • Relational work of a pastor
  • The Value of Reading Fiction for preaching
  • Lectio Divina & Preparation

Struggling to Preach the Gospel

Preaching can be hard. It’s a challenge to interpret an ancient text faithfully, apply it practically, contextualize it culturally, and most important of all, preach and savor Christ. And after you do it once, you have to turn around and do it again six days later.

Preaching is Hard

Let me revise. Preaching is hard. In addition to all the work that goes into preaching a biblically faithful and culturally relevant sermon, there’s the challenge of crafting your message. How should you arrange the material? Where should you illustrate? What material should you leave out? What kind of blend of history, theology, practice, and culture should you go for? Then there’s the rhetorical challenge. Pitch, pace, pause, gesture. I’ll never forget the first preaching class I took that talked about delivery. It’s scary how much people think about that stuff, but it is a legitimate part of preaching the gospel.

“Maybe you need to listen to your sermon first.”

Ever hit the wall the night before your sermon? I have. One week I was experimenting by preaching a different type of sermon. I was trying to “improve.” I typically work through three documents. One on notes, one full length outline, and one manuscript, and then one rehearsal in my office. The final manuscript was almost finished as I hit the wall. I came to my poor wife to share my frustration. She came back with some rich counsel: “Maybe you need to listen to your sermon first.” The message was on Gospel Identity, not confusing your various life roles with your identity in Christ. And there I was, finicky over whether or not people would like it. If the new format would “come off.” My wife basically told me to be myself. She was right in more ways than one.

Identity Confusion in the Pulpit

All too often young preachers imitate or innovate to an extreme. They try to preach beyond their gifting and personality. The best thing we can do is be ourselves, in two ways. First, don’t try to be a John Piper, Tim Keller, or Matt Chandler because you’re not. Be yourself for Jesus. Don’t over analyze your sermons or style; it’s narcissistic. Instead, analyze the text. Soak in the Gospel. Pray for your people. I think it was Moltmann who said, “We prepare a preacher, not a sermon.” Prepare your heart as well as your sermon. Preach in Christ and for Christ. Make it your aim to clarify and delight in Him. Be yourself and preach Christ.

“We prepare a preacher, not a sermon.”

Second, be yourself in Jesus. Remember, your worth is not in your sermon. Your worth is in Christ. Your value isn’t determined by your delivery. Your identity is disciple, your role is pastor. Your identity is sheep, your role is a shepherd. Your identity is a sinner redeemed by grace, your role is to pastor and preach by grace. All too often we swap our roles for our identity. We build our identity as preachers, pastors, teachers when those are simply our roles. There will be no pastors in heaven. There will be a multitude of sons and daughters. Our identity is adopted son, redeemed disciple, Spirit-indwelt Christian. We ought to find our worth, not in what we do, but in who we are–Son, Disciple, Christian!

And if you’re not a preacher, pray for your pastors. Pray that the Spirit would preach the gospel to their hearts, that he would strengthen them in the difficult task of preaching, that they would stay close to the text and their context, that they would sense the urgency of the Word in preparation, that they would have tremendous insight and creativity, and that, by God’s grace, they could give their people both a well-prepared preacher and a well-prepared sermon.

Steep in Scripture

My sermon prep begins with me, a cup of coffee, and my Bible. Only the coffee is optional. While I know my Bible well enough to have an opinion on a given text’s meaning and how it fits into the overall story of the Bible, I like to focus and pray through specific words and phrases in the passage. This helps me “steep,” or soak in the text so I can encounter God through the text. – Darrin Patrick

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