Now I’m ready to take my final break. I get up, stretch, eat my mid-morning meal, chug 20 oz. of water, then jump back into it.
The third writing segment is the pay-off zone for me. This is where my greatest spiritual insight comes. As I’m finishing the last 1/3 of the message I start to get emotional thinking about the person listening to my message. I’m thinking about their pain, what they’re thinking as they’re listening and what God wants to do in their life.
Regardless of which path you follow you’re always going to spend the last 90-minute segment engulfed in empathy for the person listening to your message. This will cause you to finish with fire. This will keep your butt in the seat. This will cause you to go back and rewrite the sections that need clarity. This is that last 10 percent where amateurs “settle” for “good enough” and then get up to preach. What separates you from the amateurs is that extra 10 percent you’re going to go after in this last segment.
6. Do a Quick Re-Read, Then Stick a Fork In It
Once I’m done, I take 15-20 minutes and re-read my entire message. I clean it up, make grammatical corrections, then stick a fork in it.
When you get to this point you will feel exhausted and amazed at the same time.
Your sermon is done, it is good, and it is only 11:17 a.m. on a Monday!
You have kicked procrastination in the teeth and the rest of your week is yours.
Very well done my friend.
7. Pass Along Your Message to Your Sermon Editor
At this point, you’re not entirely done with it yet, but you’re 99 percent of the way there.
Your next step is to send the sermon to someone you trust—a volunteer or staff member—who will read the message and “clean it up.”
I suggest that you make the person who preaches in your absence this “sermon editor.” Give them the manuscript and ask them to take 20 minutes to read, add words, underline, bold and clarify different words and phrases.
Every preacher needs a sermon editor to (a) keep you from saying stupid stuff and (b) clarify things that aren’t clear in the first draft.
8. Let the Sermon Lie Dormant on Tuesday and Wednesday
The real “magic” of sermon writing happens after it is written and you forget about it. This is when your mind and soul wrestle with the material subconsciously and rewrite/add to it without even thinking about it. This crucial piece of the sermon-writing process is missed when you finish sermons on a Saturday. Ever wrote a message and then afterward had a brilliant idea that would have made it so much better? That’s what happens when you skip this vitally important stage. When you see a dairy cow in the field doing nothing, that “nothing” is their most important work. So it is with preachers.
9. Pick It Up Again on Thursday for a Final Clean Up
Once you email the message to your sermon editor, you don’t touch it until Thursday morning when you take it out to clean it up a second time.
Remember, you could get up and preach this sermon on Monday at 11 a.m. if you had to. It’s that good. The editor simply makes it better, and your time on Thursday is when you take it from an A to an A+++ effort.
Why Thursday? Because it’s the last day you can work on it before you take two full days off on Friday and Saturday.
This is also the time I mark the sermon for slides (I highlight the words and phrases I want to be turned into slides in yellow block for ProPresenter) and locate the pictures I want to accompany them.
10. Let the Sermon Lie Dormant Again on Friday and Saturday
For a sermon by Monday, do not allow yourself to touch that sermon on your days off.
Or you will die.
Or baby seals will be slaughtered.