Some days ideas for a sermon can come without any effort; other days it is like pulling teeth to come up with something to say. I have a few questions that I like to ask myself when I'm working on my messages:
1. What's the big idea?
This is always one of the first questions that I ask. Depending on the type of message I am working on, I'll sometime start with the text first and other times if I have a specific concept that I want to teach, I'll work on narrowing down the focus of that topic. If I can't simply and clearly communicate what I'm trying to teach, the students that I'm teaching probably won't be able to remember it.
2. What's the main text?
As a teacher it's dangerous to have a killer illustration, story, or experience that you want to use so you craft your message around those things. Don't let that happen. I focus on first asking myself about the big idea and the main text because I want those things to shape the message.
3. Where's Christ?
Spurgeon said it best when he said, "I take my text and make a bee-line to the Cross." No matter what the topic or scripture, I constantly am reminding myself that all of scripture points to Jesus and since my sermons are simply commentary on the Bible, my messages should also point to Jesus.
4. What can be cut out?
This is the part that I would prefer to leave out. I have a tendency to want to share all my ideas about whatever we are talking about, which often leads to diluting the big idea that I originally planned. The best thing that I can do is learn to "Stand up, speak up, and shut up."
Photo Credit: Mr_G_Travels