Sermon Preparation: Six Methods for Coming up with Sermon Topics
Most pastors know the feeling of looking forward to next Sunday and thinking, “Ooh, I wonder what I’m going to talk about.” It’s a gut-wrenching sensation, usually resulting in some intense studying, a late Saturday night, and a few extra prayers on Sunday morning. We’ve come up with six popular methods of determining what to preach on, plus a powerful tool (the Bible software Logos), that will help you as you prepare sermons of any kind.
Here are the six most popular methods of coming up with sermon topics, arranged in order of most secure to least secure.
- The liturgical approach. If you follow the Lectionary , you’re in a safe position for sermon topics. For centuries, this method has provided ministers with sermon material for every single week of the year. You’ll always have something to speak on. Sharefaith uses the church calendar in our preparation of designs, allowing you to have professional media to complement your Sunday services.
- The expository approach. Many pastors simply take the Bible and preach through it, excluding nothing. Often, a preacher will select a specific Bible book or a passage, preaching through it in its entirety, and then moving on to another section of Scripture. This is an excellent approach, and we think it’s the best. It takes a lot of pressure off the preacher, too. Rather than racking his brain thinking, “What can I say this Sunday,” he can simply find out what the Bible says, and proclaim it. Sharefaith has hundreds of PowerPoint sermons based on Bible passages, perfect for pastors who take this approach. The solution detailed at the end of this article is best suited to pastors who follow the expository method of determining sermon topics.
- The topical approach. Many pastors preach topically, that is they consider a topic that is important for their church to hear, and then prepare a sermon or sermon series on that topic. It could be something like, “How we got our Bible,” to “Apologetics,” or “A Christian View of Entertainment.” Topical or thematic preaching can be beneficial if prepared well. Sometimes, however, the pastor may be running low on ideas for new topics. That’s when the Saturday-sermon-scramble can begin.
- The borrowed approach. This is a relatively easy approach, albeit one of questionable ethics. Rather then go to all the work of preparing a message on your own, why not jack one from someone else? There are dozens of books of pre-written sermons, plus websites aplenty offering free sermon downloads and fresh material. We don’t think that this is the best approach.
- The random approach. According to this method of sermon preparation, the pastor closes his eyes, opens his Bible at random, and places his finger down on the page. The verse he points to is the verse he preaches on. Sure, it’s chancy, but he’ll always have something interesting to bring up. No, we dont recommend this, either.
- The Testimony Sunday approach. Sometimes, when all else fails, it’s time for Testimony Sunday. This happens when the pastor has absolutely no time to prepare a sermon, so instead of a regular sermon, he simply asks for testimonies from the people. It might start off slow, but there will usually be a trickle of people who will offer a testimony. This method could be combined with the impromptu approach to sermon preparation, which happens when the pastor has an idea or seed thought, and preaches extemporaneously from that thought.
Tool for Sermon Preparation
There are, of course, other methods of sermon preparation. Whatever your method, the Scripture must be central in your preaching. When studying the Scripture, the pastor should use the best tools he possibly can in order to study the Word as carefully as possible. The most powerful tool for doing so is a Bible software program called Logos.
As a Bible research tool, Logos is more than just an online Bible software. It is a virtual theological library at your very fingertips. Lest the word “theological library” sound a bit difficult or scholarly, don’t be afraid. Logos is easy to learn and easy to use, but the best part is the incredible horsepower of its biblical research. During a testing phase of Logos Gold, we were blown away with the amount of power and versatility offered in a single piece of software. (See our complete review.)
Pastors approach sermon preparation from a variety of different angles, but regardless of your preference, Logos is a tool that you will use and benefit from. It’s not just a pastors-only tool; any person interested in studying the Bible will find a powerful enhancement to Bible study by using Logos.
We have arranged a relationship with Logos whereby you can purchase any base package for 15% off of the regular price if you use the coupon code: SHAREFAITH1 . Please visit the site and find a product that matches your needs.
Be sure to use the coupon code SHAREFAITH1 at checkout.