I teach preaching at PRTS and I’ve listened to a lot of student sermons in our weekly “Practice Preaching” sessions. As I’ve noticed that it can be difficult for beginning preachers to translate what they hear in lectures on preaching into the actual practice of preaching, I’ve put together various checklists so that students can quickly check if they’ve got the basics right for each part of the sermon preparation process. For example, here’s the checklist for choosing a text.
1. Does the text start at the beginning of a thought/passage/paragraph?
(By far the most common problem is starting and finishing in the wrong places; breaking into a thought or else finishing before the thought does.)
2. Does it finish at the end of a thought/passage/paragraph?
3. Is it too long/too short?
4. Does it contain one important point?
5. Does it contain too many important points?
6. Is it the best text for teaching this subject?
7. Is it suitable for the congregation, the occasion, the time of year?
8. Does it contribute to a balanced preaching diet?
Can you think of any other questions that would help beginning preachers select texts?
Here are my Top 10 Books on Preaching. And if you want to read more about how to select a text, here are the relevant passages in various preaching books.
Jay Adams. Preaching with Purpose, pp. 21-26.
J A. Broadus. The Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, pp. 19-31.
H. B. Charles, On Preaching, pp. 50-57.
Mark Dever, Preach, pp. 63-78.
Mark Dever, The Westminster Directory of Public Worship, pp. 93.
Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, pp. 122-140
David Murray, How Sermons Work, pp. 19-34.
Perkins, The Art of Prophesying, pp. 9-22.
Denis Prutow, So Pastor, What’s Your Point, pp. 53-60.
Haddon. W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching, pp. 53-56.
Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students, pp. 81-96.
John Stott, Between Two Worlds, pp. 213-219.
And here are a few on preaching a balanced diet of varied sermons.
R. L. Dabney, Sacred Rhetoric or a Course of Lectures on Preaching, pp. 49-73.
C. W. Koller, Expository Preaching Without Notes, pp. 98-102.
David Murray, How Sermons Work, pp. 59-70.