Art of Preaching

January 19, 2019 by Apostle Les

What You Can Preach

All Pastors should also be preachers. But this does not come naturally. There is an art to preaching, and this teaching will show you how to preach better

Chapter 01 – Convictional Preaching

We have looked in other teachings at different ways of presenting different ministries. One common function in all forms of presenting your ministry is preaching. So in this first section, I want to share specifically on the subject of the art of preaching.

I want to start by asking this question. Is preaching Scriptural?

Paul seemed to think it was, so I want to share two Scriptures quickly with you to back it up. In 1 Corinthians 1:21 it says,

For since in the wisdom of God the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe.

Then a little further on in 1 Corinthians 2:1 to 4 Paul again speaks about preaching. He says,

And I, brothers, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of [dynamic] power:

It is really encouraging to read what Paul shared in the passage above. Because you see it is a known fact that the fear of public speaking is one of the greatest fears in human nature. They say that for many people, standing up to speak in public is more fearful than facing death.

I thought this was a bit of an exaggeration when I first heard it because I never really had that problem. But after trying to train other people and encourage them to speak, I found out that it is indeed true. It is amazing how people are afraid of standing up to preach.

Not Allowed to Preach

I guess my first experiences with preaching were a little bit different. This is probably why the first time I stood up to preach I did okay.

Maybe I just have what they call ‘the gift of the gab’ and I find it easy to talk to people. Talking person to person is one thing, but standing up and preaching is another.

I think the reason most people are afraid of preaching, is because they are unsure of what they are going to say when they stand up to preach. They can’t just ad lib and speak freely and comfortably.

When I first began my preparation for preaching, I wasn’t allowed to stand behind the pulpit. I was not the pastor; in fact I wasn’t anything.

I think in those days I was not on the church council or even a deacon. So as you can see, my chances of standing up behind the pulpit in the main church were less than zero.

I was frustrated because God had called me to preach and I really wanted to do it. Every Sunday I sat there listening to the pastor crucify the Word of God with his terrible preaching.

Okay he wasn’t that bad, but I have heard some really bad preaching through the years. I always sat there listening to them preaching and thinking,

“I am sure I can do better than that!”

I guess that was one of my motivations that made it easier for me to eventually stand up and preach.

Preaching to Paper

Because I could not do this live, I had only one alternative open to me. If I was going to preach, I had to use what was available to me.

At that stage it was before the computer era, so all I had in fact was pen and paper. That was my audience and my speech, and I began preaching to paper.

I began to write down everything that I would like to say to a group of people. In that way I could write it down and then give it to the people. They could read it and I could speak to a lot of people through my writing.

Writing for me became a very awesome way of learning to preach. I have already covered that aspect under my teaching on the importance of writing, so I am not going to go into detail on that here.

There was one thing that really helped me a lot as I wrote. It was visualization. You see as I wrote my notes down, I imagined I was standing there in front of a crowd of people and speaking to them.

I began to build up images in my mind of what it would be like to actually stand in front of a group and preach.

Practicing on People

Of course I had plenty of people to practice on. I had my wife and my daughters; anybody who would listen. I could speak person to person and tell them,

“Wow, the Lord showed me this exciting thing today.”

I could share it with them, and I had plenty of practice to see how people get bored after a while and begin to yawn. This showed me what was likely to happen when I stood up in front of a group, because I didn’t have very enthusiastic family members to try it out on.

So I practiced on paper, in my mind, and on the people around me. I shared with them, spoke to them and preached to them.

Preaching Live at Last

My time finally came to preach. I had become the youth leader of the church at that time, and they decided to bring the youth groups of two churches together.

It was a church event, and the pastor, the elders and everybody was there. But because it was a youth event, somebody who was not the pastor had to speak.

That somebody was me, and for the first time I had a chance to stand up and preach! That is the first time I experienced the butterflies in my stomach. I felt that nervous feeling that said,

“Oh boy, I have to stand up and preach to this group of people.”

There were some nice looking young ladies there in the audience  that I needed to impress. This put the pressure on me just a little bit more.

So I prepared my first sermon. I thank the Lord that by that time I had already developed my Teaching Ministry through my writing, so I had a very good idea of what I was going to teach.

If I remember correctly I took one of the parables of Jesus. It was something about the Prodigal Son or one of those parables. I prepared my message and stood up to preach, and even though I was so nervous, it felt so good.

Everybody loved it and I think I was even funny. I can’t remember that far back, but I know that people really enjoyed it. The crowning moment was when the pastor came to me afterwards and said,

“Wow I really envy your delivery. I wish I could preach like that.”

So my very first preaching experience was great. It was not like some other people who stumbled and bumbled, fell on their faces and never wanted to do it again.

Helping You to Prepare

I thank the Lord that it didn’t happen to me. but you see I had prepared myself ahead of time. And now I want to try and help you to prepare yourself ahead of time, in case you are not used to standing up and speaking.

Perhaps you are in a leadership position at work where you have to lecture and teach others. If so then you are already probably comfortable standing and speaking in front of a group.

But preaching is not necessarily the same thing. So I don’t want to just show you how to stand up in front of a group and speak. I want to show you how to prepare a message, then how to present that message God’s way and under the anointing.

I want to look at the subject under the following three main headings.

1. What You Can Preach
2. How to Prepare for Your Preaching
3. How to Present What You Are Preaching

What You Can Preach

Let’s start then by asking the question what can you preach? What kind of preaching are you going to do?

You may be standing up and giving lectures as a school teacher or as a lecturer in a business giving business courses. If you do that, then most of the time you are simply imparting knowledge to people.

Bringing Conviction

Preaching is far more than imparting knowledge though. One of the main functions of preaching is to create conviction.

What is conviction? I have explained this many times in other places. Conviction is when you convince a person of something. In the case of preaching, you have to convince the audience of something that you are telling them, so that they come to the place where they say,

“Okay I get it and admit it; this applies to me. I am fully convinced that this preacher is telling the truth, and he has me right here in my heart.”

Preaching the Gospel

What kind of preaching comes under this heading of conviction? The first and most obvious kind is preaching the gospel.

What is the gospel? Well depending on what church background you come from, you may have a very different idea. For some preachers, the gospel means preaching hellfire, brimstone and damnation. It means scaring the pants off people. The idea is to get them running to the front in repentance.

Fortunately the word gospel means good means. But to me that way of preaching sounds like bad news, so I wouldn’t really call that the gospel.

It can certainly be part of presenting the gospel though. And part of presenting the gospel is to convince or convict people of the fact that they are sinners, that they are lost, and that they need the Lord as their Savior.

So preaching the gospel certainly has a very strong convicting aspect to it.

Preaching Holiness

Perhaps you are going to preach on the favorite subject of holiness that many old time preachers have preached on. Another word that is used is sanctification. What does it mean? It means that you have to stop sinning.

That is a great subject isn’t it? It’s great when you stand up and preach and tell people all their sins. You give the impression that you are such a wonderful preacher and that you have never sinned. You say to the congregation,

“I don’t do these things, but you guys are sinners. You are rotten people and I know what you have been doing behind my back. I know what kind of life you have been living. God sees your sin and you must repent!”

It is conviction and you bring people to the front again. They repent and get saved all over again, because they failed the Lord this week and they definitely did not walk in holiness. The Scripture says,

Without holiness no man shall see God.

Have you ever heard this one preached? I have heard this kind of convictional preaching.

Is it bad? No it isn’t and there is a place for it. But here is just a little hint. Conviction is not the work of the preacher. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. All you do as a preacher is present the Word. Paul said,

God has chosen through the foolishness of preaching, to save those who believe.

Our part is to do the preaching. God’s part is to do the convicting.

Ministry Training

Here is another form of preaching that also requires some form of conviction. If you have been through ministry training you will know what I am talking about here.

You are training someone for ministry. You now have to bring the person to the place where they are ready to stand up and do what God has called them to do.

Very often that means calling them to death, dealing with old habit patterns, and addressing things in them that must go. You have to deal with things like archetypes, paradigms and all sorts of things that stand in the way of ministry.

You have to bring a person to conviction. You have to convince them that there is something that needs to be addressed in their life.

This kind of preaching is hopefully short and sharp. It is powerful and very effective, and it hits the people right in their hearts. It is designed to make them say,

“Oh yes that’s me. I have to do something about it.”

Not All Convictional

Not all preaching is convicting. But some preachers love to do this kind of preaching and they major on conviction all the time.

You will see that within five or 10 minutes of preaching, certain preachers start to make you feel like a worm. You start to feel guilty and a failure.

There is a place for it, but it is only in fact one third of what I am going to list as different ways of preaching. So yes the preaching of the gospel is very important. But what is the gospel?

We have the idea that there are unbelievers in the meeting and we have to present the gospel to them. We have to bring them to conviction and get them saved. But Paul writes to the church at Rome and says,

“I have not yet had a chance to come and preach the gospel to you guys.”

That was strange because they were already Christians. Why did he want to preach the gospel to them? Was it so that they could hear his flavor, and how good he was at preaching hellfire and brimstone?

No, the gospel is good news. It means you say to someone,

“You guys don’t know the good news. You don’t have to be sick or poor anymore. You don’t have to be downtrodden. You can rise up and walk in victory.”

That is good news, and it means that the gospel is not always just conviction of sin and bringing people to salvation. So if you want to be that kind of preacher, make sure that you don’t major on the negatives all the time.

Yes you must bring people to a challenge. But what you should be convincing people and convicting them of is not always that they have failed. It is rather to see what God has given them and what they are capable of doing.

Legalistic vs. Grace Preaching

You get two kinds of preachers. You get what are known as the legalistic preachers and you get the grace preachers.

I have often taught this but I want to share it again. There are two simple ways to tell the difference between those two kinds of preachers. The legalistic type of preacher is always saying,

“We must do this and we must do that.”

The trouble is we all know that we are not doing what he says we must do, so we start thinking,

“Yes I should do that, but I don’t.”

The grace preacher comes and says,

“God has already done it, so now you can do it. Let me show you that you are capable of doing it.”

That is the grace approach. I don’t know about you, but I personally like the grace approach.

There is a time to preach the law. One of the most famous evangelists of the past said his approach to the gospel was that we need to put people in a box. So he would preach conviction of sin until the people were caught in a box and there was no way out. Then he would say,

“Don’t leave them in the box. Put Jesus in there with them, so that now there is a way out.”

Be very careful of the conviction type of preaching. If that is your hobbyhorse and your habit, start switching from convicting people of their failures, to convincing them of the fact that they can rise up and succeed.

They can be greater and they can obtain wonderful things. Isn’t that a much better motivation? You can help people to realize,

“You don’t have to be the little donkey there in the church. You could do what that guy behind the pulpit is doing.

You could do what the other Christians you admire are doing, because you have the same Holy Spirit in you. Now let me convince you and bring you the conviction in your heart.”

Then they will start to say,

“I believe I can do that, and with God’s help I am going to do that!”

That is a much better form of preaching.

Chapter 02 – Inspirational Preaching

Let’s look at the next kind of preaching. This is the kind that is called inspirational preaching. What is inspiration? It is where you stir up the emotions of the hearers.


One of the best forms of inspiration is encouragement. We live in a world that is full of stresses, pressures and difficulties. People come to church after having faced a whole week of pressure and failure.

They are feeling discouraged and down, and the last thing they need is for a preacher to tell them how useless they are and what a failure they are. They need someone to lift them up and encourage them.

If you are an inspirational preacher, you are there to lift people up. By the time they have listened to your message, they should go out thinking,

“Wow, I think I can handle this. I can face another day and another week and do these things for the Lord.”

Motivational Preaching

We also need to motivate people. This is another form of inspirational preaching.

What is motivation? I have done a whole series on this subject under the title of Keys to Self-Motivation. Motivation is to give people sufficient emotional energy that they can go out and do awesome things for God.

You need to motivate people and give them a goal to aim for. You must give them something exciting to do. If you aren’t giving people exciting things to do, they won’t do exciting things.

It is up to you as the preacher to take those demotivated people and change them. Instead of standing there and berating them for being demotivated and down, you need to say to them,

“I can see that frown on your face. Let’s see if I can make you smile. Let’s get some excitement and some emotion out and get you motivated. I want to see you jumping up and down and saying, Let me go and do it!”

As a preacher you had better be motivated yourself if you are to get people motivated. It is not going to happen if you stand with a dull expression on your face and say in a monotone,

“You know we really should do things for the Lord. We should go out and reach the lost.”

That just says to the people,

“I’m not doing it myself so I am a failure.”

You need to motivate them and get them excited. Give them a reason to want to go out and conquer.

Challenge Preaching

Here is the next type of inspirational preaching you can do. If you are dealing with a lot of expressives they will love this type of preaching. It is challenge preaching.

People who are very expressive and are into sales thrive on sales performance. Tell the sales people that there will be a special honor for the person who brings in the most sales this month, and it is not about the money anymore. It is about the challenge of being the top sales person. 

You need a challenge, especially if you are an expressive, but you are going to have a mixture of temperaments in your congregation.

Some of them will be analytical and will probably need encouragement preaching more than anything else. This is because they are always negative about everything that can go wrong, did go wrong or will go wrong.

As you can see, depending on who you are reaching, you will have to do a different kind of inspirational preaching.


The last form of preaching is teaching. You have had this most of your lives, especially in childhood when you sat in a classroom listening to a teacher.

Then you went to work and they sent you on courses where you had to go and learn something. You listened to a teacher in that place as well.

You know what teaching is. It is where you have to sit for hours and listen to some boring person spouting a whole lot of knowledge. Then when they are finished, you are supposed to go and memorize it all and write exams on it.

That is not Bible teaching though. Bible teaching means that you have to teach people how to live the spiritual life. You give them principles by which to live.

Things to Remember When You Teach

Teaching is a very simple function, and there are several important things that you need to take into account.

Start With the Known

The first thing to take into account is you need to teach from the known to the unknown. People often say this when they refer to a Bible teacher. They say,

“He is really deep.”

This is because he stands up and spouts a whole lot of theological terms. He gives you knowledge of stuff that you don’t even know what he is talking about.

You have never been there, but he is trying to stand up and be a  big super-spiritual guy, who is so far above you that you couldn’t even touch his toe.

You have to start where the people are at and with what they know. You have to identify with them and say something like this.

“You know what it is like when you wake up on a Monday morning. The alarm goes off and you think, Oh Lord I don’t feel like going to work again. I hate having to do that!”

People know that experience. Now you can use it as a springboard into teaching them something new. You can say to them,

“Now let me show you something you didn’t know. Let me show you how to wake up in the morning. You will be so keen that you will probably wake up before the alarm goes off, because you can’t wait to get up and go to work.”

Do you want to find out how to do that? I sure would like to do that. I am not going to tell you though because I don’t know the answer myself, but you are ready to be taught, aren’t you?

No Difficult Language

Here is the other thing that teachers fail in. It is keeping their language simple. Imagine that you go to a meeting, and the preacher stands up and says,

“Tonight I would like to teach on the difference between Predestination, Antinomianism and Pelagianism.”

I am sure that everyone is very keen and enthusiastic about listening to that message.

You might say, “I thought it was a sin to swear from the pulpit.”

I am impressing you with my great knowledge and the studies I have done in theological books, but you don’t have a clue what I am talking about.

I have read some theological books that have such high language and are written for college graduates. But nobody in the congregation is going to admit that they are not that intelligent. They are not going to say,

“I don’t actually know what that word means. Even though it is an English word I have never heard of it before.”

And of course nobody is going to look it up in the dictionary. They are simply going to switch off and you are not going to communicate anything.

You should always aim for the very youngest person or the least educated person in the congregation. If you can reach that person, then those that are higher up will also understand what you are talking about.

Less Intellect, More Emotions

You must avoid pure intellect. There is only one temperament that thrives on intellect and that is the analytical. An analytical is not the most abundant temperament amongst the people in the church.

You can see who the analyticals are. They have deadpan expressions on their faces. They very seldom smile, they don’t move, and they don’t have the courage to tell you what they think because they are not assertive either.

We must reach those people as well. But every one of us has something a bit more important than our intellect. It is our feelings and emotions.

Always be emotive in your teaching. If you can’t bring some kind of emotional stir, people are not going to receive the knowledge that you are trying to impart to them. I will show you how to do that in detail in the next section.

Major on the Practical

This next point is the most important thing of all in teaching. It is also the major failure I see in so-called Bible teachers. You must keep your message practical.

Imagine that I am sitting in the congregation and my wife and I had a fight before the meeting. Our marriage is in trouble and we have had this situation many times. But now the preacher is teaching on Predestination and Antinomianism.

That really helps me in my marriage doesn’t it? No it absolutely doesn’t! We are living normal lives out there. You need to make your teaching relevant to where the people are; to how they live and the problems they face in life.

If you cannot take the Word of God and apply it practically to peoples’ lives, then what are you teaching them? You are just teaching them a load of head knowledge.

All they are going to be able to do with that head knowledge is stand up in front of a group and bore another group with that same head knowledge. They will simply educate the people with the knowledge that they receive.

Teach in a New Way

What do we call a person who does that? We call him a school teacher. It is a fact that school teachers go and study all sorts of subjects, then they just stand up and impart that knowledge to others.

That is all they are doing; just re-imparting the knowledge that was given to them. But it takes more than imparting knowledge to be a teacher. You need to be able to present something in a way that makes the person say,

“I knew that before, but I didn’t know about that aspect.”

I have found that as I functioned as a teacher, I would teach things that people already knew. We have the idea though that we have to teach people something brand new. We say,

“I have to be totally original in my teaching. I have to present a brand new doctrine that nobody has ever heard of before.”

In most circles they call that heresy. You must take what people already know and present it to them in a way that they never heard before.

I found again and again as I functioned in the Teaching Ministry, that the people who responded the most to it were the ones who already knew what I was teaching. They were the pastors and the elders.

These were people who had studied all of these things before and they knew the doctrines. But they would come to me afterwards and say,

“Wow, you gave a new way of looking at that teaching that I never heard before. You added something new to my knowledge. I thought I knew that, but you took what I knew and added something I didn’t know.”

You see I was teaching from the known to the unknown. This is a very simple method of teaching, and I cover it in a lot more detail on how to present the Teaching Ministry in Section 06 of this book, so I am not going to major on that right now.

Don’t Wing it

We have already considered the subject of what you can preach. Then once you have decided what you are going to preach, you need to prepare to preach. Some preachers seem to think they can take this Scripture literally.

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Preachers who open their mouths wide and let God fill it, actually find out that God gets left behind while they fill their mouths with every other thing that has been in their minds.

They go on and on, repeat themselves over and over, and go for hours at a time. When they are finally finished the people say,

“Wow that was a tremendous message. Um, what did he preach on again?”

“That’s a good question. It was really good and he was quite inspiring and motivating, but what exactly did he preach on?”

What we are looking at in this section is the art of preaching. In other words you are preparing to present your preaching. Whether it be convictional, inspirational or teaching, you want to be able to preach in a way that will have an effect on the people.

Before you can do that however, you must know how to prepare your preach correctly. This is what we are going to look at in the next section.

 How to Prepare for Preaching

Chapter 03 – Choosing Your Topic and Scriptures

Let’s continue looking at the art of preaching. In the last section we looked at what to preach. Now we are going to look at how to prepare for preaching. In this section we are going to look at how you actually put together your sermon notes.

You might be preaching prophetically, in which case God has given you just one word to speak to the people. You may not be exactly sure what you are going to say, because you are a prophet and God will give you the words as you preach.

If this describes you, then it is not necessary for you to preach with sermon notes. However there are very few people who can preach that way.

I have found that even when I have preached prophetically, the Lord has usually given me at least one Scripture or something to start with. This is a different kind of preaching though.

You Must Have a Track

What I am teaching you now is not just how to stand up and preach the one word that the Lord has given you. I am assuming that you have a specific track to run on.

If you are not used to preaching, having a track to run on is very important, because if you don’t have one you could get lost.

Also if you don’t have a track to run on, you are going to start down the road and then see a rabbit. You are going to chase after the rabbit, and whether you catch it or not, you will finally reach the point where you say,

“Okay, now where was I?”

You will have a problem finding your way back to the main road if you don’t lay it all out systematically in your notes. There is a time to chase the rabbit, but most of the time it is not while you are behind the pulpit.

Preachers who chase the rabbit kick from teaching mode into the prophetic and there is a place for that.

Sometimes God will lead you to change what you are saying and follow a specific theme. This is because there may be someone in the congregation that God wants to address something specific in.

You must allow for that, but you must always be able to come back and say,

“Okay, this is where we were, now let’s continue where we left off.”

In order to do that, you need to prepare a sermon outline or skeleton. I am going to show you how to do just that. As an illustration, I am actually going to give you some of the skeleton notes that I used when I originally did this teaching.

This means that you will see my skeleton and some of what is to come after I have taught you this section. You will see how I have structured it.

Include Scripture

The first and most important thing that you should have in your preaching is some Scripture. After all, preaching should be based on the Word of God, and you should have some kind of Scriptural basis for what you are preaching.

You may want to start this from the beginning as you prepare your message. You might want to identify what Scripture you are going to include in your sermon.

This isn’t always the case though, because you may have a subject or a topic that you want to teach on. Or God may have given you a specific theme that you know you must minister on. If that is the case, you are then going to preach out of your knowledge and experience.

Wrong Ideas by Amateurs

There are a lot of mistakes that amateur preachers make in this regard. They think,

“I have to prove everything I say from the Scriptures.”

Then they pull out their Concordance or electronic Bible and look up all the Scriptures on they subject they are teaching. They end up with a big load of Scriptures and say,

“There are at least five or six good ones here. They are all really necessary.”

If you are an analytical you will not be able to leave one of them out. You have to give all the facts. So here you have a preacher with five or six big Scriptures. Five or six is actually a small number. I have seen worse.

He has all those Scriptures and he has to somehow include them in his message. He has to prove to the people that what he is preaching is in the Word, otherwise they won’t believe it.

This is not true. You don’t have to prove anything. The Word of God can speak for itself.

Know Your Topic

It is good to find a Scripture on which to base your message for one very good reason. What are you going to preach on? Imagine if I said to you,

“I want you to come up here and preach to us for five or 10 minutes.”

The first thing you are going to say is,

“What should I preach on?”

“Just pick any subject you like.”

Can you think of something off the top of your head? It is like asking a person to play a song. You might say to someone,

“Please play me a song.”

“Which song would you like me to play?”

“Well any song that you know.”

“I have hundreds of songs in my repertoire. Do you think I can just think of one and play it?”

On the other hand, someone may say to you,

“Do you know this song?”

You can say,

“Yes I know it. I can play it for you.”

Then you can go ahead and play it.

Someone might say to you,

“I really would like a teaching on the subject of faith. Do you think you could do some preaching on it?”

That is fine; you have a subject now. You know something about faith, you have studied it, and you can now stand up and preach on the subject of faith. You can find some Scriptures on faith and prepare a message.

How to Find Your Subject

If you are not sure what to preach on, just find a verse. You might say to me,

“Where do I find a verse?”

In our Bible program online I have a little Random Button. You just click it and it picks a random verse. Sometimes the verse that comes up is totally obscure and has something like the begats in it, but keep going until you find one that makes sense.

Look at it and say,

“I can preach on that.”

You can now take that Scripture and prepare a message on it. So depending on how you are going to preach, you are either going to choose the subject. Or you are going to look up a Scripture and preach on that Scripture.

There are a whole host of options to choose from, but you should have at least one Scripture in your message. I like to use two Scriptures at the most; nothing more.

Have you ever read a book or a Bible Study? Sometimes people start giving you Scripture references to look up. Tell me, how many of them did you look up while you were studying? Don’t lie, you have never looked up one.

Supposing the teacher is like me. He doesn’t just give you the reference, but gives you the full Scripture in the text of the book. Who reads the Scripture? You probably don’t read the Scripture, never mind look it up.

People don’t do it, so stop bombarding them with hundreds of Scriptures in your preach. If people want to read the Bible, they will read it at home, not while they listen to you preach. So try and choose one or two short passages of Scripture at the most, just to bring the context out.

At the beginning of this teaching in Chapter 01 I gave you two Scriptures. The first one was about how it pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe.

The second one was where Paul spoke about preaching in weakness, fear and trembling, but in the demonstration of power of the Holy Spirit.

I brought a concept from the Word, and I haven’t quoted those Scriptures again in the whole time I have been teaching. I didn’t have to go back to them. I just set the concept through the Scriptures.

How to Begin Your Outline

Once you have your Scriptures, you need to choose your introduction. To start your sermon notes off you need to put your Scripture right at the top of the page.

Usually when I am preparing my sermon notes, I will put my title right at the top of the page, and the first thing under that will be my Scripture reference.

I will either do that, or I will actually put in the whole Scripture because I’m going to read it out. I am not going to say to people,

“Will you please turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 2.”

That is the old way of doing things. We don’t do that anymore. Have the Scripture printed out and just read it to the people. Nobody is going to turn to their Bibles, because nobody even carries Bibles anymore these days.

They may have a Bible on their phone or their iPod. But they are not going to bother to look it up while you are preaching, so just quote the Scripture.

Now that you have found your Scriptures, there are three main sections that you have to give in your message. You are going to do an introduction, a main part and a conclusion. All you have to do is remember those three points. It is very easy.

If your message does not have an introduction, people won’t even begin to listen to it. If the main part of your message has too many points, they will get lost. And if you have no conclusion, why did you both standing there talking for an hour?

What was the point of your preach? Was it just to tickle the ears of the people? The conclusion must finally bring the purpose of your message.

Right now you are likely thinking,

“Okay, this is the subject I am going to preach on. I have found my Scripture, but now how do I start my preach?”

This depends on who you are speaking to. You may be speaking to a brand new set of people; a new group who don’t know you. When you stand up to preach they are going to check you out and say,

“There he is – bald, short and loud.”

They are going to look at you and say,

“I wonder what we are going to get from this guy. I wonder if he’s going to be boring and is going to preach for hours. Do I really want to listen to him?”

Chapter 04 – Planning an Effective Outline

Getting Peoples’ Attention

Preaching is the same as selling. You have to start by getting the attention of the people. When you have done that, you have to keep their attention until you are finished.

If you don’t get their attention you cannot keep it. So the main purpose of your introduction is to get the attention of the people.

How can you do that? I taught it pretty well when I taught on the AIDA in my teaching on the Practice of Business. I looked at it when I taught on The Laws of Selling.

How do you get the attention of the people in preaching? I have three main points to share with you.

Be Original

Firstly you must be original. If you say something that people have heard preachers say throughout the years, nobody will listen to you. They will say,

“There he goes; a regular old preacher starting the usual boring way. I know what’s coming; another hour of boring preaching. The pews are so hard in this church. It is summer time, I’m hot, and I wonder what we should make for lunch today.”

Be original, and if possible tell them something that they have never heard before. Present it in a way that is different from what preachers normally do it. Whatever it is, it will get their attention.

Show Emotion

The next thing you must do is to be emotive. It is not a good thing to stand up with a dead pan expression on your face and to say in a monotone,

“Tonight we are going to continue with the subject of presenting your ministry gifts. You will remember that last time we covered the subject of how to preach. So today I would like to continue on that subject, and I would like to teach you how to prepare a sermon.”

You are quite excited about this preach aren’t you? No you are not! If I as the preacher can’t get excited about it, you as the audience are also not going to get excited about it.

You need to learn to show some emotion in your introduction. Say something original and emotive like,

“I am going to show you how to preach better than your pastor. I’m going to show you how to preach better than that great Bible teacher you so admire.

I’m going to show you how to rise up and be so successful, that people will be buying all of your preaching DVDs, CDs and videos. You are going to be so popular, every person will be talking about you and saying, ‘You should hear this guy preach. He is awesome!’ ”

When I say it like that with emotion I can get you excited. Do you want to find out how to preach now? Yes you do because I have given you some emotion.

Be Enthusiastic

This next point follows closely on from being emotive. You need to be original, emotive and enthusiastic. When you start that way, and you have the attention of the people, they will say,

“This guy sounds quite interesting. I think I could listen to him for half an hour or maybe an hour if he is really good. Let’s see how it goes. I want to see what he says next, because so far it sounds pretty good.”

Your introduction has to do that. If it doesn’t accomplish that, you have lost the people before you have even started.

Building the Main Part

You have your introduction, so now you need to build the main part of your message.

Keep it Short

Here is what you don’t do. You don’t want to say,

“Tonight I would like to teach you how to preach effectively. I have written down 25 points that I believe will really help you to become an effective preacher.

I am just going to go through those 25 points now, and by the time I’m finished, I believe that you will be able to become very effective in your preaching.”

The people will be sitting thinking,

“Number 1, number 2, number 5. Oh boy there are still 20 points to go!”

You are lucky if your audience even remembers the first five points. By the time you get to number 10 or 15 they have forgotten all the ones that came at the beginning. You should have three main points at the most in your message.

When I started this teaching I told you what my three main points were. The first one was what to preach. I am going to show you now how I prepare my skeleton, because this is how I do it on paper.

I start by putting my Scripture in, then I put in my Introduction. This is what I had in my Introduction.

1. The fear of public speaking

2. My first experiences of preaching to paper, visualization and preaching to those around me

3. My first public sermon

That was my introduction, and in the first chapter I did in fact share that and got your attention.

Next I came to the main part and said that I had three main things that I was going to teach you.

The first one was what to preach. Under this heading I went through the different kinds of preaching that you can do, i.e. convictional and inspirational teaching and we looked at what you can preach.

We are on the second part right now which is how to prepare a sermon. This is point B in my sermon notes. When I am finished with this section, I am going to give you point C which is my last point. This will show you how to present your message.

Using a Mind Map

A great way to prepare your message is to use a mind map. You can put your title on the top, then you can put three main points underneath. Under those three main points you can put sub-points, and you can split each of those down further.

That is what I have done here. When I came to the topic of what to preach, I made several main points. The first one was conviction, the second one was inspiration and the third one was teaching.

I put sub-points under each one of those headings. Under the heading conviction I put the gospel, holiness and ministry training. Under inspiration I put encouragement, motivation and challenge.

When I look at my notes I have a whole track to run on and it is quite simple. I can now backtrack on anything that I have taught because it is all laid out systematically.

On the topic of How to Prepare, I am sure you would like to know what was in my notes because you will want to know what I am going to cover next. Well this is what I have under how to prepare your sermon.

1. Selecting a Scripture

2. Choosing Your Introduction

3. Building Your Skeleton

4. Choosing Your Conclusion

The conclusion is the last part you need to put in at the bottom of your outline.

The Outline Step By Step

Here then is my sermon outline in a nutshell. I open a Word document or Pages document and put in the outline as follows.

TITLE – How to Prepare




A. What to Preach

B. How to Prepare

C. How to Present


Adding Your Sub-Points

When I have done this I ask myself,

“What Scripture am I going to put in?”

If I already have my Scripture, I will copy and paste it under the Scripture heading. Then I look at my main part and say,

“What are my main points – A, B and C?”

When I have confirmed those main points, I will choose them and put them into my outline.

Next I will go to my conclusion. If by now I know the main thing I am aiming for, I will put it in. Usually though I leave my conclusion for last. If your message is an inspirational or convictional message, then you should put your conclusion in first.

What is it that you are hoping to accomplish through this preach? You must decide that before you start and put in your conclusion first.

I now have my outline sorted out, and I can start putting my sub-points in. Under heading A. What to Preach, I can put in points 1, 2, 3, 4. I can do the same under my heading B. How to Preach. I can put as many sub-points as I like, and the same with heading C.

I now have a beautiful skeleton and I can put in sub-points again if I want to. I don’t like to have too many sub-points though.

Padding Your Outline

Now that I have my skeleton, I can put some meat on it. Where do I get that from? That is where the anointing, the skill and the experience comes from.

How long does it take you to prepare a message? Preparing the skeleton for this message took me about 15 or 20 minutes. That was it, but it takes a whole lot longer to preach it.

How am I going to get the meat to put on my skeleton? How long did it take me to prepare the meat part of my skeleton? About 61 years, because that is how old I was at the time I did this teaching.

You get the meat part from your life experience; what you have studied and learned. Everything that is inside of you will come out when you are ready. But if you have your skeleton, all you need to do is look at the next subject.

Use Illustrations And Stories

What is my next subject? Under Building Your Skeleton which is point 3, you need 3 main points, then you must add your sub-points.

You should use illustrations or examples to do this effectively. Use some kind of picture to describe the principles you are teaching.

One of the best kinds of illustrations that you can use is stories or your own personal experiences. Use something that brings it to life and makes people understand it. Again when you do that, you are going from the known to the unknown.

Once you have done that, you go to the end and choose your conclusion. In the conclusion you are tying up all the loose ends of what you have taught. You need to summarize everything and say,

“These are the main things I have taught you. I looked at What to Preach, I showed you How to Prepare and I am ending with How to Present.”

When I come to my conclusion, I must leave my audience with some kind of expectation or challenge so that they say,

“Okay I got something from this message. This is what I am going to do as a result of what I received from this preach.”

There you have your skeleton. When I preached this live I had almost three sides of paper for my notes. It was all laid out nicely, and I could backtrack and look any time at what I had covered.

It was all laid out in summary point in front of me. I had my track to run on and I stuck to it. Every now and then I might have added some extra bits, but I came back to the track again.

[whohit]Art of Preaching[/whohit]

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