H.B. Charles is an outstanding young pastor and preacher. In his blog, he recently offered some solid suggestions about sermon preparation: “I am a manuscript preacher who cheats. Most weeks, I write a complete manuscript. Most weeks, I do not carry anything to the pulpit but my Bible. I believe both practices sharpen the preacher—writing manuscripts and preaching without notes.

“Here are 11 tips for writing yourself clear in sermon preparation.

Pray. This is not a cursory step. You should pray before and throughout your study of the text; and you should pray your way through sermon preparation. You need guidance in what to say and how to say it to your congregation.

Start with a sermon skeleton. Begin by determining the title, theme, central idea, outline and other elements that make up the framework of the message. Establish the structure of the sermon. Then put meat on the bones.

Write. You will never write a manuscript if you do not write a manuscript. Don’t procrastinate. Sunday is coming. Start writing. Write for as long as you can. Get your ideas on paper. Don’t worry about how good it is yet. A bad page is better than a blank page. Just write.

Write it out word-for-word. Type your introduction, explanations of the text, Scripture references, applications, illustrations and conclusion completely. ‘The Vacation Story’ or ‘Charles Spurgeon quote’ may suffice in your pulpit notes. Not here. Write it all out. After you start writing manuscripts regularly, this practice also will help you to gauge how long your sermon is.

Write for the ear. A sermon manuscript is not a term paper, theological essay or potential book chapter. It is a transcript for a message you will deliver to God’s people. As you write, think about those who will listen to what you say, not those who may read what you write.

Preach it as you write it. Talk it out as you are writing it down. This will help you communicate clearly and effectively. Some words that are easy to write are not easy to pronounce. That long, run-on sentence that looks so beautiful on your computer screen may be a nightmare to say. Likewise, preaching it as you write it aids memorization.” (To read the other five tips, click here.)

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