When it comes to preaching, pastors typically struggle with the preparation more than the delivery. The earlier you start preparing, the better. In a workshop at The Gospel Coalition National Conference, Peter Adam shared 14 questions (below) to guide preachers to make the most of their sermon preparation.
1. Have I found what God wanted his people to know, believe, and do, when he originally caused these words to be written and passed on?
2. Have I found all that God has put in this passage: its genre and literary features; its shape, structure and content; its key words or phrases; its meaning, emotions, motivations, and purpose?
3. Have I understood the passage in the context of the book of the Bible in which it is found, and that book’s pastoral purpose?. Have I understood the passage in the light of the whole Bible, that is, in the context of biblical theology?
5. Have I made good use of commentaries, and used the wisdom of other Bible commentators or preachers, and so modeled good exegesis?
6. Have I reflected on and applied the passage and the sermon to myself, and responded with repentance, faith, and obedience?
7. Have I prayed for the people who will hear the sermon, for their understanding, response of faith and obedience, their transformation, and their ability and intention to teach and exhort others with what they have learned?
8. Have I found what God wants to say through this passage to the people to whom I will preach, and how he wants to transform them?
9. Have I worked through the congregation’s response to this passage: what information they need, what they will find difficult, what they will misunderstand, what they will enjoy, what they need to learn, how they should be transformed?
10. Have I found what God wants to say to the whole congregation as a body?
11. Have I taken into account what different groups in the congregation will need: unbelievers, inquirers, new Christians, lapsed Christians, mature Christians?
12. Have I fallen into the trap of reading my hobby-horses into my exegesis or my application, and made the necessary corrections?
13. Have I pruned my sermon so that it is a coherent message, with one ministry purpose, no distractions from that message and purpose?
14. Have I shaped my sermon so that it is user-friendly for the congregation?