How to Write a Sermon (Based on 38 Years of Preaching and 2,000+ Sermons)

Step #8: Lighten it up where appropriate

If you can add a bit of humor in appropriate places, that can really add to a message. Often, some kind of humor in the introduction helps get people’s attention. I wouldn’t generally recommend telling jokes. If you are able to use humor, let it be in a natural way. A touch of humor (again, when appropriate) can emphasize a point, and give your listeners a small “break” from the intensity of the message, which will then help them refocus on the serious sections.

Step #9: Reveal your own need for God’s help

In your message, include your own weakness and how God has convicted you or helped you apply the Scripture you’re preaching on. You don’t want to come across like you are superior to your listeners. You are all in this together. We’re all growing in Christ. We all have struggles and failures. The more you can relate to your audience, the better your message will be.

Once I told about how I was replacing a toilet in our bathroom (and I’m not any good at home maintenance to start with), and as I tightened a nut on a bolt all of a sudden the base of the toilet cracked. “Arggghhhh!” I shouted, because I would have to buy a whole new toilet. When my wife, Kristi, heard me and asked what happened, she said, “Did you pray before you started?” And I said in my frustration, “No! And I’m not going to!” Obviously the pastor needs God to help him too.

Step #10: Remember to encourage the saints

Be encouraging. Your goal should be to build up the church. To give people hope. To remind them that God is for them, and God wants them to be victorious even more than they do. To remind them that God will complete the good work he began in them, that he has given them his Spirit to empower them to do God’s word.

When people come to church they often come in weary and discouraged. They come in tired from the battle. They don’t need to be condemned or discouraged. They need to be strengthened and given hope. Hope that God is for them and in control, and working all things for good. Hope that God will empower them and help them. Hope that they can change. Hope that Jesus loves them. This doesn’t mean we can’t challenge folks but I want to be sure everyone leaves with hope. I want it to be more about God’s power than their weakness.

Step #11: Include the good news

And try to include the gospel in every message. Remember there are unbelievers there. There are new believers. This doesn’t mean you need to have an altar call or lead people in a prayer to receive the Lord at the end of your message, though I will occasionally do that. But I try to work the gospel into every message.

I try to share the basics, that Jesus Christ is God, was born a human being and lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. He was crucified, taking our sins upon himself and God the Father poured out his wrath on Jesus, punishing him in our place. Jesus died, was buried, then on the third day rose physically from the dead. He ascended to heaven where he now reigns as Lord of Lords. And if we believe in Jesus, and call upon him as Lord we will be saved, he will forgive our sins and give us the free gift of eternal life.

I may not always say it in precisely the same way, but I want to get the gospel in there and invite people to believe in Jesus. It might only take two minutes, but I try to include it in each message.

This is how I usually go about preparing a sermon, and things I try to remember. Obviously, we want to remember to pray for God’s help in preparing and delivering our messages as well. I also try to remember that diligence and faithfulness are as important as gifting. So keep working on your preaching, and trust that the Lord will use you to save people and build up his saints.

This article originally appeared here.

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Mark Altrogge
Mark Altrogge is the original triple threat: singer, songwriter, pastor. He has been the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence”. When not pastoring or writing songs, Mark can be found consuming vast quantities of coffee. Unfortunately, Mark is not particularly gifted in the area of athletics.

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