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As a pastor, or communicator, it’s easy to neglect the most important component of sermon and message preparation—your own heart.

With family obligations, staff meetings, and other commitments competing for your time, you may find yourself trying to find something to say, without having something worth saying.

How do you prevent this?

Here are some key ways Dr. Charles Stanley—who has faithfully preached week-in and week-out for more than 50 years—prepares himself and his messages.

How to Prepare Yourself:

It may seem obvious, but the most important component of preparing your message, is to prepare your own heart first. Here’s how:

  1. Be disciplined. The most important thing in sermon preparation is your personal relationship with Christ Himself. If that’s not right, nothing else will be. A man can preach, no better than he prays.
  2. Have a clean heart and a clear mind. If you don’t have a clean heart, you won’t have a clear mind.
  3. Maintain a balanced schedule. If you don’t have a balanced schedule, your priorities get out of order.
  4. Maintain a healthy body. If you feel terrible, you won’t feel like preparing.
  5. Have right relationships. Make sure you have people in your life that can love and encourage you, and keep you accountable.
  6. Have the courage to be obedient to God, whatever He requires of you.

When those things are right, you can do whatever God calls you to do.

How to Prepare Your Message:

  1. Have a burden for the message. When you feel the burden, you are compelled by the Holy Spirit to teach and preach that specific message.
  2. Preach for impact, not to impress.
  3. Address the need. Ask yourself, and pray about, what the needs are of the people in your congregation.
  4. Ask God to lead you to the scriptures that best meet those needs.
  5. Start in the Scriptures. I’m not a very good storyteller, so I start the message off with Scripture. Some people are gifted with illustrations though, and use these to start out their sermons, but I prefer to just start with the verse I’m teaching from.
  6. Study and research the text.
  7. Create a theme based off of the scriptures. This theme often becomes the title of my message.
  8. Create an outline. I look for clarity and a sense of direction as I prepare the message. There needs to be a feeling of movement in the message. Remember that you’re preaching to make an impact. Think about what you want people to remember. Also, you can’t be thinking about yourself, and impact someone else’s life.
  9. Make the introduction, and the conclusion very clear. One thing to do is to recap how they can apply something in their lives at the end of the sermon.
  10. Remember that it’s not who you are, but about what God is doing through you.

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