As a pastor, I have the joy of preparing sermons to preach every week. That means 15-20 hours for each sermon, studying a passage of Scripture, thinking through how to communicate it, and finally writing a sermon. When I near the finish line of this process, I do one final check. I call it, uncreatively, the Final Sermon Prep Checklist. I basically go through the sermon, point by point and line by line asking the following questions:
- Is the main idea of the sermon the main idea of the text?
- How does the sermon demonstrate that this is the main idea of the text?
- How does the sermon show people how to know that this is the main idea?
- In what ways does this sermon exult in Christ and show ties to Christ?
- How clear is the gospel in this sermon?
- Is there material in the sermon that isn’t necessary? Cut this material.
- Is there material in the sermon that points more to the speaker than the Author? Cut this material.
- Does the sermon show the congregation how to apply this passage?
- Is the application specific enough?
- Is the application general enough?
This process has been great for me and has probably saved many sermons from being ineffective and a waste of the hearers’ time. One of the huge benefits of expository preaching is that the preacher is ALWAYS aiming (or should always be aiming) to put the text before the congregation, and preaching in such a way that the text can be understood, cherished, and applied by God’s people.
To that end, this step has been crucial to my sermon prep process.