My friend Rick Ezell recently pointed out in his newsletter that “At the Academy Awards, since 1981 not a single film has won Best Picture without at least being nominated for Best Film Editing? Why? Because good editing makes for a better film.”

If there was an Oscar for Best Sermon, I suspect the same trend would be seem – the Best Sermon would also qualify for Best Sermon Editing, because good editing makes for a better sermon.

This is one of the realities I try to impress upon preaching students, but it’s also a reminder that we veteran preachers need to hear as well. In the process of developing a message, a faithful preacher will come up with far more content than can be used in a single sermon, whether it is designed for 20 minutes, 35, or an hour-long marathon. The availability of online sources and Bible software like Logos only makes the challenge greater.

With all that material at hand, the key to move from good exegesis to great sermon is editing. We have to identify the key biblical idea in the text, analyze what the text says about idea, and determine the best strategy for explaining, illustrating and applying that idea in a way that listeners will grasp it and engage with it for positive life change.

That’s also a reason why writing your sermon in advance is a valuable discipline. It is hard to edit what you haven’t written, and the process of writing also helps the preacher more effectively wrestle with the text and recall the message in the moments of delivery.

And it’s hard to do all that late on a Saturday night, so give yourself time to write well and edit well. It will pay dividends in sermon quality on Sunday!


Michael Duduit
Follow on Twitter @MichaelDuduit

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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