Today I am sharing some of my favorite resources for preparing sermons. First, I should say that I am not a lectionary preacher. You can check out my sermons at my sermon page or on iTunes and you will see my topics and texts vary widely. That said, some of my favorite resources are Lectionary based. I normally used textweek.com listed below to find the text I am looking for. Second, I should say that I do not make extensive use of commentaries. I do if there is a particular question or if I want to verify something I am seeing in the text. Early on in my preaching I found that I overused the commentaries and they clouded my own wrestling with the text.
I like to begin my study of a text with The ESV Study Bible. It has the best information on the basics of a text in a way that is not overwhelming. It gives good introductions to the books and fits the texts within the larger themes of salvation history.
One of my favorite and most used resources for preaching is the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. I tend to preach images and metaphors and like to connect the threads of scripture with real life. This book is the best thing on my shelf for doing this. You look up a word like “water” and it will give you a long entry about water in ancient times, water in prominent Bible stories, and the use of water in Biblical metaphors. I am in this resource weekly.
I have specific commentaries for specific books of the Bible, especially from the Interpretation Bible Commentary Series and The NIV Application Commentary. My favorite commentary is Feasting on the Word, Complete 12-Volume Set. For each text, it gives four columns of commentary- an exegetical, theological, pastoral, and homiletical perspective. It is an amazing one-stop-shop for a great number of sermon ideas and illustrations.
I have two classic commentary sets that I often work out of. I love to use Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible (Super Value Series) and Calvin’s Commentaries (22 Volume Set). These are timeless resources and often point to the critical questions of the text.
There are also 2 websites that I regularly use for sermon study:
Text Week is a webpage that collects links to sermons, commentaries, ideas, images, and articles. It is a great place to get a ton of information very quickly. It is especially helpful on commentaries by the church fathers. Since I am not a lectionary preacher, I use the scripture index to get to the texts that I want.
Working Preacher is a lectionary resource put out by David Lose and faculty from Luther Seminary. It gives articles, pastor helps, and a podcast based on the lectionary. It is always high quality information and helpful for preaching. Please note that links to these resources are often posted to textweek.com.