DEVELOP YOUR OWN SERMON FLOW.
As you read the text, you will begin to notice natural divisions or progressions in the text. These natural seams will become the hooks on which to hang the meat of the message. Also, as you study your commentaries and read related sermons, you will likely notice similar seams. That’s to be expected if you’re following the flow and preparing a text-driven message. Remember, it is the text that determines the flow and drives the message.
PULL FROM ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE.
Read those resources you agree with and those you don’t. Listen to preachers you trust, who feed your soul and stir your heart. Make a note of stories, jokes or illustrations that can be used to apply the truth of the text or connect the message to the hearers. In my sermon preparation, I normally have more sermonic material than I could use in half a dozen sermons. My job is to understand the truth of the text and pull from all of my resources those materials that will help me communicate the Scripture most effectively to my congregation.
DON’T RELY TOO HEAVILY UPON ONE OR TWO RESOURCES.
Often those who break my rule regarding lying and laziness do so unintentionally. The problem comes from only consulting a couple of commentaries or preachers’ sermons. Don’t do that. I believe that it is not only permissible but advisable to listen and learn from other sermons. However, if you don’t read widely and listen broadly, you will probably find yourself following one or two familiar resources too closely.
LOOK FOR A FRESH WAY TO SAY AN OLD STATEMENT.
It’s amusing for those of us who’ve spent most of our lives studying preaching to see where another preacher makes a statement we know was actually, originally, said by a pulpit hero of a previous generation. In your study and research, you will likely come across a pithy statement. Don’t just say it like it’s yours. Take the truth of the statement and communicate it in a fresh way for today’s hearer.
ATTRIBUTE WHEN IT’S UNIQUE, IMPORTANT AND BENEFICIAL.
There are those who teach that you have to cite every thought you didn’t come up with all on your own. I find this utterly ridiculous. Preaching is an oral art and shouldn’t be bogged down with verbal footnotes every time you share a truth you gleaned from your commentary or sermon mining. I do believe, however, that there are times when it is beneficial to attribute a quote or story, especially if it is unique or was spoken by someone whose reputation gives added force or credibility.