This is part 1 of a 2 part blog.
1. Start with an oddball series or a difficult text. Last summer I preached a sermon looking at food metaphors in the Bible. This led me to all kinds of great themes and texts. I am now preaching parables and paying special attention to the less familiar parables.
2. Work ahead on your preaching schedule. If you spend Monday or Tuesday picking a text and topic for your sermon then you are already behind in your study and you will run out of time to be creative on how you put together the sermon. Have your sermons picked ahead so you can be thinking about them and so that you don’t waste time picking them the week of the sermon. I should also add that I plan about 3-4 months ahead and I normally leave a couple of blanks so that I can respond to God’s leading.
3. Prime the pump. A number of my sermons are inspired out of other books or lectures I am reading or listening to. This way I start with a good idea or perspective on a topic that I can study in the Bible and make my own.
4. Marinate in the text before you pick up a commentary. This is the opposite of “priming the pump” but it is sometimes also helpful. Read the text a few times and make notes about it before you look at commentaries. What do you notice in the text? What phrases, details, and images stand out to you?
5. Work ahead on your research. I like to do all my study on the text on Monday and Tuesday. I want to give me a day to sit on my ideas before I write the sermon. That gives me Thursday to write the thing. By researching early I give myself space to be more creative on how to structure and deliver the message.