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Bible Scripture selection is just a part of sermon preparation and it may or may not be the first part in the process. There is much to pray about, think about, collect, and study to be properly prepared to preach.
Remember we are talking about Bible preaching, not just speaking, so first and foremost, ask for God's guidance in the preparation process. This way you will come out of it with a word from Him through you to the audience. They need to hear from God more than they need to hear from you and me!
Obviously, if your message is from preaching through a book of the Bible, you would have your Bible Scripture selected ahead of time as you go through the book.
However, if you are preaching a subject or topic, you may very well select the verse or verses that fit that subject after you already know your subject.
This is true also if you preach to a known need of the people. This need becomes your topic and you gather Scriptures that speak to that need. Regardless of whether we select the Bible passage first or last, I believe we still need to preach to the needs of our people.
So the Bible Scripture may or may not be selected first, but it is part of the preparation process. Let's take a look at that sermon preparation process and see what is involved.
First, we need to think about our audience. Exactly who am I going to be preaching to. What are their ages and interests and needs. More on the preaching audience here.
Another thing to think about in preparing a sermon is the occasion. Is this a regular Sunday morning service, Sunday evening, Wednesday night, revival, small group Bible study, ladies meeting, Valentine banquet, vacation Bible school?
It makes a difference in preparation, doesn't it? More on the preaching occasion later.
Another thing to think about in preparing a sermon is the place. Where will you be preaching? Will you be in a church auditorium, at a youth camp tabernacle, in a Sunday School classroom?
Will you have a pulpit, a band stand, a tree stump, or nothing to preach behind? It helps to know these things when you prepare to preach. More on the preaching place later.
Another thing to know and think about is the need of your audience.What is it they need? If you know that and speak to that, you will never have to worry about whether or not they are listening. More on the need of the people later.
Another thing in preparation is research. Read the Bible Scriptures that relate to the subject. Read your notes from other sermons you have heard on that subject. Read books and commentaries and magazines and newspaper articles and web sites and blogs and go to the forums.
It doesn't matter what the source as long as it is trustworthy and helps you prepare for and preach the sermon. More on the research of a sermon later.
Another thing in preparation is the collection of your sermon material. From your research collect what you can use now or later. Here you would collect verses from the Bible, materials from books, articles, and notes from other peoples sermons, speeches, reports, conversations.
You can even collect notes from yourself (I've written sermon ideas and thoughts on napkins in restaurants and filed them away for later!) Collect from any other source for use in a sermon. More on the collection of sermon material later.
Another thing in preparation is the selection of Bible Scripture. If you have not already picked your text or Bible passage to preach from now would be the time.
I personally like to pick the Scripture before I pick the subject, but that is not always possible. More on selection of the Bible text for preaching later.
Another thing in preparation is the study of your material and Scriptures. Usually, if you have researched and collected material properly, you will have more material and even more Scripture than you can use in one sermon.
You may think about a sermon series if you have enough Scriptures and materials. Study the correlation of the material and the Scripture and select what fits and supports the subject the best. More on the study of sermon material later.
It is certainly true that the process can vary as long as we end up with a sermon from God that proclaims His Biblical truths and that relates to the subject or need at hand.
And what a thrill to go through the process and come out with a sermon that makes a lasting difference in the lives of those to whom we preach.
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