Do you ever get stuck in a sermon prep rut? I do. Sometimes the sermon comes together like a beautifully crafted work of art. But other times I struggle to make progress in my study. It’s hard to break out of sermon prep stuck-ness. I’ve learned a few things that help me overcome these stuck times, and I want to share them with you. Here are 16 things you can do this week to get unstuck in your sermon prep:
1. Put away your study materials and pray for 10 minutes about nothing but your sermon. Preaching is supernatural work, and prayer re-emphasizes in your own heart that you are utterly dependent on God to empower you to preach effectively.
2. Read the text five times slowly. It’s amazing how quickly we tend to move away from the text to study materials and sermon formulation. Put away everything else and just read the text multiple times, letting it speak to you.
3. Open the voice memo app on your smart phone, hit record and start preaching what you have so far. You may find that speaking the words helps you formulate them better or in a different way than writing.
4. Run your content by someone else and see what they think. This can be done informally with a friend or fellow pastor. I explain how to make this part of your regular sermon prep in my guide to preparing sermons in a team.
5. Take a break from studying for a while and come back to it later. If your mind is foggy, walk away from it for a while. Think about something else. Do completely unrelated work for a few hours.
6. Go for a walk. A brisk walk. Or a run. Get your blood pumping and some much needed oxygen to your brain.
7. When any thought (ANY THOUGHT) about your sermon comes to mind during the week, immediately make a note of it. Immediately. Never assume you’ll remember the amazing insight that comes to you at a random time during the week.
8. Summarize the entire message in one paragraph. Wherever you are in your study, distill the whole message into one paragraph. This will force you to focus and clarify what you are trying to communicate.
9. Talk about your content with anyone who will talk about it with you. Listen and take notes. This is similar to #4, but the difference is that you do more listening than presenting. Fish the idea out just enough to get them to comment on it and then listen carefully.