How I Prepare A Sermon

About 150 sermons into the game, here are some humble insights into this mysterious process.

1. Decide on a scripture. Every Sunday morning message is rooted in the Bible. A specific passage, rarely more than 5 verses, serves as the anchoring concept. I know I’m going to be able to preach a particular text because I hear the ring of truth in it. It really is like a little psychic bell or clicking that goes off in my head. Sam Proctor (among the best of the old dead black preachers) called it “the certain sound of the trumpet.” Hearing it takes away the butterflies of public speaking because it reassures you that God is on the throne.

2. Explore the meaning of the text to discover its significance and relevance. This is also referred to as exegesis. I put pen to paper to answer some or all of the following questions and more: Why are these verses ringing bells in my head?  Have I ever heard this scripture before? What does it make me think of? What does it say in a nutshell? How do people feel about this one? Just writing all I can consulting only myself and the biblical passage.

3. I was advised to find the dictionary definition for every word in the passage. Not always feasible, but we don’t know some words as well as we think we do. Getting into the dictionary just helps you understand what you’re going to be talking about better–and that’s good.

4. Check commentaries. More exegesis, but I think up as many insights as possible myself first, then read what everyone else has to say. I like the Interpreter’s Bible. I also check out, the The Urantia Book Paramony, and anything else I can find in my study that relates to the chosen verses. When, where, why and by whom was it written? Got to check the passage in Hebrew or Greek at, a complete interlinear translation you’ll get something out of whether or not you read Hebrew or Greek. I write down everything that seems interesting, knowing that I won’t use it all in the sermon. There are many definitions for what a sermon is. One calls it “the fruit of exegesis.”

5. Figure out what I’m preaching about. Not the same thing as deciding on a scripture. You’re not preaching about John 3:16–you’re preaching about how much God loves the world or about how we never really die. What are you preaching about? Sometimes you know in the first 30 seconds, sometimes you have to patiently pray your way into it. What are you preaching about? Scary question, but you must be able to answer it elevator pitch style.

6. Look for examples in nature and media. Facebook friends’ status updates, a mall food court, a walk around the block, a dog’s reaction to meeting other dog’s, the pain of dieting, your last argument, an eerie coincidence, good performance art, childhood memories, your last plane ride. When you know what you’re preaching about and keep it at the top of mind, ideas come a-flooding from all angles.

7.Talk to people about it. Work the truths and stories into regular conversation. Find people who appreciate preaching and bounce sermon ideas off ofthem–when you start talking to people who appreciate preaching about your ideas, they usually end up giving you more good ideas to preach. Write them down no matter where you are because you won’t remember them all.

8. Compile all notes. I know for myself that 2 pages of single-spaced notes is enough. More is OK, less than a page and a half of notes is not enough for me, repeat steps 2 through 7 until you’ve done sufficient exploration of a given text.


That’s about right.

9. Number 9 should have been number 1 to me: pray and meditate. Prayer is the way to see and know the text, the community, yourself, and God ever more authentically. How else can you hope to speak the truth? Meditation does a lot of things as well. One benefit of meditation is that it allows me to intensify the intention behind the preaching. If I aim to be inspirational, I can be more inspirational by meditating on it. If I need to provide healing to listeners, my words become more healing through healing meditation. The more prayer and meditation, the better the sermon–it’s at the beginning, middle and end of the process.

10.Type out a final draft. Whether you work from a manuscript, extemporaneously, off an outline, or without notes, I think it’s good to have the key points of the sermon typed and saved/emailed to myself for easy reference later.

11. Rehearse I’m eternally grateful I was exposed to Linklater’s freeing the natural voice techniques. The more rehearsal, the better. Also important to be acquainted with the ideas you are preparing to espouse. The more I rehearse, the more excited I get about the preaching moment.

You actually read that to the bottom? You probably need to be preaching. Let me know how I can help.


10 Reasons Our Church Gave Away $350 in Gas Money


Not our store, but you get the idea.

1. We want people to know that Jesus loves them and is very powerful in the world.

2. The Church is constantly asking people to give, so the church should be first in giving.

3. Right or wrong, I felt like some people were trying to tell me we couldn’t do it, and that pushed me to do it. Thank God for them truly!

4. It’s an excuse to make people smile, and smile they did. For some, getting just an unexpected $5 was too good to be true and they outright refused it!

5. The 60+ people we touched will all share our flyer and story with at least one person, and probably many.

6. Shameless self promotion the week before Easter to get new people to visit our church. Evangelism, marketing, sales, and advertising all overlap the spiritual path in a profound way.

7. The 11,000 people living within a square mile of our church have never seen anything like this. Who knows who may stop through or what the outcome might be.

8. People love it and it makes everyone feel good.

9. It is a great way to live out the Golden Rule.

10. There’s a first time for everything and we had to start somewhere. Maybe we’ll give away more soon.

11. Gas prices are a national concern right now. Tangibly easing the pain for people is the Christian thing to do.

I Know, You Told Me So

Ok, so my main man Herman Cain dropped out ofthe race.You told me he had no chance of winning the nomination. You questioned my embrace of a conservative Republican candidate. I had hopes of seeing this man rise from poverty to business success to the 45th U.S. president. For a black conservative, he got closer than most, and opened doors for all of us in the future. Alas….



What can I say, running for president is serious business. Apparently, all’s fair.

Ten Things I Like About Herman Cain

1. He’s black. Two black presidents in a row!

2. Some of those conservative ideas actually make a lot of sense.

3. Nicknames include the Hermanator and the Dark Horse.

4. He beat stage 4 colon cancer.

5. His mother was a  cleaning woman, father a barber, janitor, and chauffeur.

 6. He was chairman of a federal reserve bank.

Don't hate. Congratulate.

7. He can play the piano and sing well.

8. He’s a Morehouse Man, class of 1967 with a master in computer science as well.

He could...go...all...the...way!

9. The number 45 has proved fortuitous for him throughout life. He was born in 1945. 2012 will be his 45th college reunion, he would be the 45th president and inauguraed in 2013, the same year he’ll celebate his 45th wedding anniversary.

10. His book is entitled “This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House.” Hate it or love it, the man has balls.

It Was An Accident

When you reach for a knife to cut the potatoes, be sure you’re in the right spiritual frame of mind. Picking up a knife to cut the potatoes is routine enough. But if you’re angry or distracted or guilty because you’re not supposed to be eating potatoes, unless you’re extra careful, you’re more likely to have an accident. Same goes for reaching for a glass of grape juice or holding someone over a ledge as a joke. Regular, everyday routines can turn ugly quick with the wrong frame of mind.

I’m working on thinking positive and staying attentive to the present moment. That’s where the miracles are.

Philippians 4:4 “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whtever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.


Please Don’t Forgive My Student Loans

The Occupation seems to be holding steady and even gaining ground.

Why are we doing this again?

The only thing we know for sure about the people in the tents downtown is that they don’t know what they want, but they’ll know it it when we get it. What do we the 99% really want? Student loan forgiveness comes to the top of my list–just wipe them clean off the books. But in reality, that would be one of the worst things that could happen to the future hopes of the American economy.

I had a bachelor degree, and I decided I wanted to get a master. I sent off to the school for information, they sent me back a nifty catalog. Towards the back, they told me it was going to cost well over $50,000 to get through the 3 years of study. I said, “ok, no problem,” applied, got accepted, matriculated, and graduated. Six months after graduation, that bill they told me about came due.

Now, it’s true that a lot of companies got bailouts; they swindled and evicted and laid off countless hardworking people. Yes, the credit card companies employ the type of people the Bible warns us about. All that is true–so if they voluntarily decide to forgive the $829.785 billion in federal and private students loans Americans owe, I’ll let them.

But I don’t expect that to happen.

The way I see it, all of us bright educated folks need to use the degrees we begged, borrowed, and stole to obtain. We should be the ones inventing, writing, selling, and making new stuff.  All our new, must-have gadgets and books and services will stimulate the economy. Also, we’ll have enough money to pay back the loans once we put ourselves to work.

Sallie Mae and Pell already made the education possible, thank you very much. Now, I don’t intend to wait for a jobs bill to employ me or Obamacare to cure me, or the Occupy Movement to get my debts cancelled.

I for one, plan to use this fabulous education of mine to make a real difference for myself and the world.

Why I Can’t Accept Compliments

There are times when I hear a preacher preach, a musician perform, or a comedian stand up. To be completely honest, they did a good job. Not great, not incredibly inspiring to me personally, but good. When I shake their hand afterwards, I lie and tell them what a wonderful job they did and how moved I was by their efforts, and how I’m going to tell all my friends to watch their You Tube….

I try not to do it, but chalk it up to me just being too nice.

The thing is, if I do that to other people, someone is invariably doing the same to me.

“Really powerful sermon, pastor. I felt like the Spirit was talking directly to me.”

Call it vain, but that’s nice to hear. Also important to remember that there will always be people who are exaggerating the compliments for whatever reason. Compliments are the best, but they’re not meant to be taken literally.

I’m eternally grateful for the impact I make and the support I receive. But it’s important not to let the compliments inflate you too much.

The criticisms shouldn’t deflate you too much, either.