So you have been asked to give a bunch of talks for a youth group camp or maybe your pastor has asked you to preach a four week series for church. You now have about 3-6 months to prepare for the series, what do you do?

I have developed a process for preparing for a series based on advice Don Carson gave at a preaching conference. Here is what I do if I am preaching through a book:

  1. I read and read and reread the book. I want to know the argument of the book and its main themes without going to a commentary or some other book. From this reading I usually choose the breakup of the book and the passages in consultation with the Elders at Resolved.
  2. After I have read the book I read two dictionary articles on the book or a two entries about the book in an introduction to the New or Old Testament
  3. I then read the introductions of the commentaries I am going to use.
  4. Then I may read a bunch of books on the topic(s) that the book I am preaching through deals with. For example, before I preached through Galatians earlier this year I read a bunch of stuff on Paul, the Law and justification. This helped me no end with my understanding of Galatians.
  5. While I am doing all this reading I am always on the lookout for illustrative material.

If I am preaching a topical series like “Sex and Relationships” My process goes like this:

  1. Figure out the broad topics I want to hit. In the “Sex and Relationships series I wanted to preach on marriage, singleness, love for the gay community, struggling with same sex attraction, lust, sex etc. ‘
  2. In consultation with the Elders at Resolved select the passages to preach on.
  3. Read very widely on these topics from both every background I could. For example for the sex series didn’t just read evangelical books on sex and relationships. I read secular books, liberal books, evangelical books. Now if you are starting out preaching or giving talks I would say go to some books that your pastor recommends because reading widely like this can confuse you and shatter your confidence.  But if you are a trained pastor do hard work in this area.
  4. While I am doing all this reading I am always on the lookout for illustrative material.

In doing this reading I have found that when I come to a text I already have a good idea of what the passage is about and exegesis time is cut down significantly. It also teaches me that preaching is hard work and I need to devote many hours to it!

So that is what I do. How do you prepare for a series?


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