Basic Preaching and Sermon Preparation

Presenter: The Rev’d Paul Jennings


Rev Jennings asserts that preaching is one of the most challenging aspects of leading worship. Whether you are enthusiastic or terrified at the prospect of preaching, this is normal. He tells us that a bit of “holy terror” can be healthy if it keeps us mindful of what a responsibility preaching is.

He offers some tools to help fulfill the responsibility. He also aims to provide a taste of the joy of preaching.

He discusses the goal of preaching. He offers the comparison of different styles of preaching to meals: from the “gourmet meal” style of some online preachers, to the “home-style” nourishing style more suited to most of our congregations. We have a responsibility not to serve up spiritual junk food.

If we approach a sermon with the expectation of discovering something new, then we will transmit something of that excitement in our preaching. Ideally every sermon should be the discovery of something new. A sermon is not a general teaching about Christian doctrine. A sermon should speak to your particular community at this particular time in the face of our particular trials and questions and doubts.

Our role as preacher is not to be the expert or to be the religious authority but as a member of the congregation who has “gone ahead” in our research and learning. Our sermon preparation must be characterized by this careful process of listening.

We are invited to think of sermon preparation as a series of eight forms of attentiveness:

1. Attentiveness to God’s presence

2. Attentiveness to the text

3. Attentiveness to our feelings and reactions

4. Attentiveness to the story

5. Attentiveness to the people to whom you are preaching

6. Attentiveness to the doubts and questions and challenges to the gospel message

7. Attentiveness to the gospel

8. Attentiveness to your own voice