Before You Preach, Nail Down the Answers to These Two Vital Questions

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To know if you were successful at something you’ve tried, you have to know what you were seeking to accomplish. This is true in every area of life but especially in preaching. This is why I nail down two questions before every sermon. These two questions are an essential part of my sermon preparation process, and I want to share them with you.

1. What is the objective for this sermon?

When you think back on a sermon you’ve preached, you should know if you met your objective. Nothing is more frustrating than putting lots of work into a sermon and having no way to measure its effectiveness. But to assess the sermon, you need an objective to measure it against. And to meet an objective, you must have an objective. So what exactly is a preaching objective?

A preaching objective is simply what you want the sermon to do. A sermon should be more of a verb than a noun. A sermon should work. It should accomplish things.

But your sermon only accomplishes what you make it accomplish. Your sermon only works as hard as you do. It’s essential to understand exactly what you want your sermon to do before you preach it. This is your preaching objective.

Example objectives: This sermon will …

—show how knowing your identity in Christ makes a difference in your relationships.

—teach people how to pray.

—demonstrate how God has worked all throughout history.

show how this Old Testament passage points to Jesus.

—show how to understand and apply this passage of scripture.

—teach people what biblical giving looks like and how to do it.

Every sermon needs a purposeful objective. If you have not clearly defined the objective for your sermon, you won’t know if you’ve hit it.

Coming up with an objective. To decide on an objective, I ask some questions during my preparation.

What’s the point of this text?

What’s the theme of this preaching series?

What am I trying to get across?

What is the most important thing for them to remember?

What matters most for THIS sermon?

What’s not as important for THIS sermon?

These questions help me narrow down exactly what I want my sermon to do. Before I get too far in my preparation, I write down the objective. Nailing down an objective is important, but it’s incomplete without accompanying application. Your sermon needs a desired response.

2. What is the desired response for this sermon?

What is a desired response? If the objective is what your sermon is to do, the desired response is what your listeners are to do with the sermon. If the sermon works like it’s supposed to, your listeners will know exactly what they are to do in response. Put another way, a desired response is how you want your sermon to be applied.

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Lane Sebring
Lane Sebring is a pastor, speaker, and author of Preaching Killer Sermons: How to Create and Deliver Messages that Captivate and Inspire. He created PreachingDonkey.com, a site dedicated to helping preachers communicate better. His articles have been featured by Sermon Central, Church Leaders, Pastors, UnSeminary, and others. He lives in Knoxville, TN with his wife, Rachel, and their three daughters.

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