The Pastor/Teacher’s Toolkit – Sermon Prep

toolkit, cross-ref explorer

Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the LORD, obey it, and teach its statues and ordinances in Israel. –Ezra 7:10

If you are a pastor, WORDsearch can help you quickly, but effectively, prepare sermons that are faithful to biblical text and compelling to your congregation. Dr. Micah Carter, who has been one of our guest speakers at our Training Conferences, shares some of his best basic tips for sermon prep below.

Prep Time Principles

These principles are important to remember while creating a sermon. To stay faithful to the text remember that:

  • The meaning of the text is the meaning of the sermon
  • Points of sermon arise from the text itself
  • Theology and application matter
  • Commentaries as supporting tools, not starting tools

To save even more time, make sure to have your different WORDsearch Desktops set up for different types of study: Basic, Deeper, Language, etc.

Prep in Practice

Let’s walk through an example of how to create a sermon using the above principles.

  1. First, choose a text. In this example, we’ll use John 3: 1-21, the story of Jesus and Nicodemus.
  2. Read, re-read the text and marinate
  3. Read different translations for comparison
  4. Jot down big ideas, interesting thoughts, major characters, words, repetitions, special phrases that arise from the text (these will support the main idea and main point of the sermon.)

Remember to:

  • Look up (bathe your sermon in prayer)
  • Look deeper (word studies, structure/flow of text/theme)
  • Look backward (historical-cultural context, church history)
  • Look around (thinking of your people)

From John 3: 1-21, this sermon’s main idea is, “Where do you stand with Jesus?” using Nicodemus as an example.

  • Nicodemus was a seeker (John 3:1-21)
  • Nicodemus was a supporter ( John 7:45-52)
  • Nicodemus was a servant (John 19:38-42)
  • Nicodemus was a sacrifice

Applications in conclusion: Where do you stand with Jesus? As a seeker, supporter, servant sacrifice?

Final Thoughts – Steps Not to Skip in Sermon Prep!

  • Prayer
  • Pause to hear the Holy Spirit
  • Personal connection with the text
  • Preach to the heart (not just the head)

micah_carterDr. Micah Carter is the HCSB Translation Spokesperson for B&H Publishing Group. He currently serves on the pastoral team of Redemption City Church in Franklin, TN, and has ministered to churches in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Arkansas. He is married to Meredith and they have two sons, Benjamin and Jonathan.

We hope this Quick Sermon Prep Tip will help you out in some way. Thank you for all that you do for the Kingdom! What is one step you make sure to never skip in sermon prep? Share with us in the comments below!


  1. I agree with Dr. Micah. I prepare sermons with the same guidelines. The most important hermeneutical principle you can follow when studying a text is by asking the question, “What does this have to do with God and me and everyone else? ” in terms of:
    – God’s ultimate purpose
    – God’s ultimate plan (not “origina” plan)
    – God’s ultimate promise

    What does God ultimately want to perform:
    – in me? (How He wants to change me)
    – through me? (What He wants to accomplish in the lives of people and the world around me)
    – with me? (How and what He wants to communicate with and to me in order to reach the lost and to equip and encourage other believers)
    – for me? (What godly desires has God developed in me that He wants to fulfill and what godly desires does He still want to develop in me? )

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