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Sundays come around with an alarming regularity. That is the truth. For most pastors, the most discouraging day of the week is Monday when they realize they must craft another sermon for the following weekend. Thankfully, for me, I have discovered a rhythm of study and preparation that takes a lot of the weight off me.

My study week begins on Monday when I read through the text for the following Sunday. My goal on Monday is to read the text as if it were my first time. I hope to read and hear these sacred and ancient stories with new eyes and ears and not with the senses of someone who already knows the details and ending of every story. I believe the Scriptures are continuously articulated and all of us can hear and understand if we are listening.

Tuesday morning, I meet with a small study team that helps me explore the differing theological viewpoints of the text. We challenge each other and talk about different commentaries written by scholars like N.T. Wright, John Stott, William Willimon, and Lloyd Ogilvie, among others. This meeting launches me into my morning of study and prayer that wraps up around noon.

After more study and prayer on Wednesday, I try to have a rough outline ready for a late morning meeting with a sermon prep team that is made up of a diverse group including men and women, young and experienced. At the beginning of the meeting we pray, and then I try to give the big ideas of the message in 5-10 minutes. After I finish, there are three rules:

1. They can give me any feedback they want. I would rather hear that the sermon is off base on Wednesday than on Sunday afternoon.

2. I do not have to take any of their advice. I would, of course, be foolish not to listen and consider all of it, though.

3. If I do take their input, they get no public credit from the stage on Sunday. I tell them their reward will be in heaven.

A meeting like this requires that pastors get over a great deal of insecurities and really allow for honest conversations that will only help us communicate to a multi-generational audience more clearly.

Thursday mornings are set aside for more study and prayer, with the goal of having a mostly finished outline by noon that I can submit to our team. I love that I still have two days for the message to simmer like a good stew. Hopefully, when Sunday arrives, the message is a good meal.

Brady is the lead pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. He is married to his college sweetheart Pam and is the dad to two great kids, Abram and Callie. He has just written a book called Fear No Evil and he's really serious about caring for the people of Colorado Springs by opening numerous Dream Centers.

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Talk about it...

David Buffaloe

commented on Aug 6, 2012

wow, a sermon prep team. Don't know what to say ...

Chris Surber

commented on Aug 6, 2012

If this works for you Great. I tried to be a part of a lectionaries discussion group once but found myself defending the veracity of the Bible to a bunch of theological liberals and bailed on that. Sermon prep team? Sounds like exegesis by committee. Are these folks trained to rightly interpret Scripture or is the point practical feedback? I don't know. The church is adrift in a sea of relevancy to the exclusion of scriptural authority. What happened to seeking the Lord and being broken in prayer over your people and the Word? Hmmm... I don't know....

David

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Thanks for this post - I am a younger pastor and always appreciate how other ministers are managing their sermon prep time. I really like the idea of getting feedback from a team - is it made up of staff, volunteers, leaders, other pastors? I would be interested in how you chose your team, too - did you simply open it up to anyone who wanted to be there?

Joel Rutherford

commented on Aug 6, 2012

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Joel Rutherford

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Your Comments

Barney Lewis

commented on Aug 6, 2012

That sounds good if you have team and the time.

Anthony R. Watson

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Hmmmmmm..... I'm not too certain about the sermon prep team concept. Every congregation is different, and therefore require different needs and approaches. Listening for God to speak first, and then developing the sermon has always worked for me. With 66 books in the Bible to choose from, there is always something to preach about. Plus, the Holy Spirit is always there to lead and guide. This is the only input I need.

Drew Kizer

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Wow. One sermon a week prepared by a team. That is nothing like my reality or the reality of any of my friends who preach. Am I mistaken, or are most of us preparing 2-4 lessons a week, not to mention counseling, taking care of administrative duties, writing, making visits, and conducting Bible studies?

Colin Steer

commented on Aug 6, 2012

The concept of a sermon prepared by a team and aspects of it evaluated beforehand is a bit odd. What if the sermon is a challenge to team members....how does the pastor know if their "objections" or evaluations are "objective"?....Seems to me the pastor should spend more time alone with God and seek his direction ahead of delivery. Too many cooks spoil the soup.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 6, 2012

I do agree that God's voice through the text must be the priority. But the idea that I alone, as the preacher, can hear that voice, can develop the sermon, and have no need of any sort feedback from a "sermon prep team" (or whatever one chooses to call it) before delivering the sermon strikes me as quite a bit presumptuous and proud. In fact, if one is truly serious about following the biblical example of sharing the preaching ministry (no where in the Bible is preaching limited exclusively, or even primarily, to one person in a congregation), then having some sort of group that includes elders and other gifted lay members assist you in preparing your sermons can serve a double function. As these elders and gifted lay members see how you prepare sermons, they become trained in how to prepare sermons themselves!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Drew Kizer, I empathize with your workload! If I may share with you, I have found that what has helped me the most is that I share the preaching ministry with elders and other gifted lay members in my churches. I pastor two churches, one with an average attendance of about 80, the other with an average attendance of about 40--so I'm not talking about something only "large" churches can do! This translates to me preparing about one or two sermons a month, and about one or two shorter devotional talks for our midweek prayer meetings. The advantage of this system is that I'm able to spend more time on each sermon than if I was preaching twice a week; I'm able to spread out that time over the course of several weeks, so that the message has a longer time to mature in my mind; and I have time for my other administrative and pastoral responsibilities. These other responsibilities, by the way, I also share. Everything I do, I try to train others to do it, also--that's my understanding of the biblical role of the pastor (Eph 4). I encourage you to consider trying something like that. It may seem like a lot more work at first, but I can testify that in the long term, it pays rich dividends!!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Colin Steer wrote: "What if the sermon is a challenge to team members....how does the pastor know if their 'objections' or evaluations are 'objective?" The same way you know when you hear those "objections" AFTER you preach. You're going to hear the objections and evaluations anyway. At least the way Mr. Boyd does it, he has the opportunity to pray and mediate on those evaluations and objections before preaching; which can surely led to a better sermon, or at least a sermon that can anticipate those objections and respond to them with something more substantive than what comes off the top of one's head! Time spent with God alone is crucial, and is a vital part of the sermon preparation process. But I find it unbiblical to believe that I, the preacher, alone can hear God's voice on any given text.

David Trail

commented on Aug 6, 2012

For myself I would be concerned that if the prep team felt that a particular verse or topic might be offensive then it winds up deleted from the sermon, possibly worried that someone could be offended. Sometimess people don't want to hear the "hard" teachings,but they need to hear them. Just a minor concern; that's all.

Robert Sickler

commented on Aug 6, 2012

If you are a hireling your method makes sense. If on the other hand, you are a preacher, kin to being a prophet, your method has some serious short fall. It is my understanding from scripture that a preacher gets his message from the written word, as he is inspired by the Holy Spirit and then he does his best to relay that message to the fellowship. I will admit that the message is generally stained by the human but it should be the best effort of the preacher to tell others what God has lain on his heart.

Liz Ballard

commented on Aug 6, 2012

Wow this is really an interesting concept. Maybe a good one, I don't know, I just don't recall from scripture where anyone else used a team to develop a sermon.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 6, 2012

David Trail, let me remind you of what Mr. Boyd wrote: "I do not have to take any of their advice. I would, of course, be foolish not to listen and consider all of it, though." This should relieve any concerns expressed by some on here. If something that could be considered offensive winds up being taken away from the sermon, the problem is the preacher, not the team. Remember, the team is there to aid in the sermon prep process, not to direct it. As we all agree, the process should be directed by God alone. There is no reason why a sermon prep team should inhibit the preaching of "hard" messages.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 6, 2012

I have a serious question for those who are getting so hung up on the idea of a "sermon prep team": do you consult any commentaries at any point during your sermon preparation process? If so, why are these scholars more worthy of having something to contribute to your sermon, than the Holy Spirit-filled saints who will actually be listening to your sermon? I would really like to hear a response.

Charles M. King

commented on Aug 6, 2012

To each his own. However, to me this sounds rather academic. If I used this approach I would feel that the Holy Spirit would not be participating in the process. So often in my sermons and messages the Holy Spirit leads me away from what I thought was best. I love to engage in discussion groups during the week, but that, among other studies and meditations, are a part of my personal growth and development process. While in front of a congregation I want the Holy Spirit to speak. I am always willing to abandon any plans I have in favor of Him. He has never failed to take my planned delivery and enhance it. I look to Him to do that.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 6, 2012

The Holy Spirit is as fully capable of participating in this kind of process as he is in the process of any other preacher here, assuming our processes are in harmony with Biblical principles. Why do we think the Holy Spirit is only capable of speaking through ONE individual, but not through MANY. I think that idea would limit the Holy Spirit much more than the process used by Mr. Boyd. By the way, I am not advocating that we all follow Mr. Boyd's sermon preparation process; and keep in mind that the sermon prep team is only a small part of that process. Each of us has to figure out what works best for us, considering our different gifts, temperament, etc. But there is a resistance in this thread to the idea that Holy Spirit-filled saints can have something valuable to contribute in the sermon preparation process that, quite frankly, I find a bit disturbing.

Brad Brought

commented on Aug 6, 2012

I must be honest -for obvious reasons; I kind of cringed when I first read this, BUT...Pastor Boyd is simply passing along a plan that works well for him. Perhaps we should be grateful for the fact that Pastor Boyd is allowing us to see what works for him, and giving each of us a different perspective to try IF our approach seems a little stale. After all, are we not on here to HELP one another? We certainly do NOT have to put each suggestion into practice, BUT , again, I feel that having someone who is willing to take their time and share some advice on how to make our preperation more fruitful is a wonderful concept. Thank you pastor Boyd!

Wilson Chiu

commented on Aug 6, 2012

i think the sermon prep team concept is taken from john stott's between two worlds. john wanted to build a bridge between the biblical and contemporary world. one way is to form a team to discuss the preaching topic from various standpoints but not from the commentaries.

Colin Steer

commented on Aug 7, 2012

I think there is a big difference between scholarly / colleagial discussions on passages of scripture, and consulting commentaries and DRAFTING and PRESENTING a sermon outline on a weekly basis to a committee (which must include the experienced and inexperienced, men and women) AHEAD of delivery. It seems a slippery slope to me in an effort to be relevant to all the potential hearers. Whether there are critics of the message before or after is irrelevant. This is not to encourage arrogance, presumption of knowing it all or even pride as one writer said earlier, but rather for the preacher to be clear in his role, calling and responsibilities in that particular locale.

Colin Steer

commented on Aug 7, 2012

I should add that I appreciate that Brady Boyd did not suggest in his original post that using the team as a sounding board was not the be all and end all of his sermon preparations - that he was committed to private study and reflection before and after meeting with the team..

Rev. Wayne Claxton

commented on Aug 7, 2012

Well now.......has it come down to asking the sheep for how they want to be feed?

Rev. Wayne Claxton

commented on Aug 7, 2012

Well now.....has it come down to asking the sheep for how they want to feed?

Johnny Wilson

commented on Aug 7, 2012

I appreciate his honesty but the ultimate burden and joy of preparing and delivering the sermon is God's word that has been given to you, not a committee. It appears that this process would lead itself to a message manipulated by a faction of the church not necessarily a message for the church.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 7, 2012

Colin Steer, re: post #23. That's the point I've been trying to make! The sermon prep team is not the entirety of his process! There is adequate amount of private study and prayer before God. But the thought that at some point during the process, sharing your initial thoughts with some of the saints for the purpose of getting feedback would make a valuable contribution to the final version of the sermon seems to be freaking some people out, and that just doesn't make sense to me. Also, you wrote: "I think there is a big difference between scholarly / colleagial discussions on passages of scripture, and consulting commentaries and DRAFTING and PRESENTING a sermon outline on a weekly basis to a committee (which must include the experienced and inexperienced, men and women) AHEAD of delivery." Would you care to elaborate on what that "big difference" is? Finally, you wrote: "This is not to encourage arrogance, presumption of knowing it all or even pride as one writer said earlier, but rather for the preacher to be clear in his role, calling and responsibilities in that particular locale." Let me ask you this: do you believe it is the pastor's role, calling and responsibility to be the exclusive, or even primary, preacher in a congregation?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 7, 2012

Rev. Wayne Claxton, perhaps part of the problem is in the way we view our church members. You see them as sheep that need to be fed. I see them as Holy Spirit-filled saints that need to be equipped for the work of ministry. Incidentally, I got that from Eph 4, the only passage in the NT where the term "Pastor" appears.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 7, 2012

Johnny Wilson, I think you, as well as others, are really missing the point. Mr. Boyd is not describing a process for preparing a sermon by committee. He is describing a process where the Holy Spirit-filled community of faith to which he ministers assists him in discerning the voice of God in a given text. Again, why is it that some preachers have no problem consulting scholars who don't know a lick about your church or community, and yet they have a big problem consulting "regular church members" who do?!

David Trail

commented on Aug 7, 2012

We all have different points of view, that is apparent. What I do see is a friendly conversation starting to turn ugly. As members of the body of Christ we should be working on ways to function together; after all we are on the same side here, are we not. If we could focus this much energy on spreading the Word of God SW we are debating an issue just think of what we can accomplish for the Kingdom of God.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 7, 2012

David Trail, I apologize if any of my comments have come across as ugly. Rest assured, I mean no ill will towards any of posters on here. However, I am very passionate about this issue; and, unfortunately, in this kind of forum passion can come often across in bad way! If the majority of the comments on here against the idea of a sermon prep team (which, I repeat, is only a small part of the process) had been along the lines of, "Well, if that works for him, that's fine, but I don't think it'll work for me,"--that would've been one thing. But from the very first post, many have been responding in a quite hostile way. Read the comments again: "What happened to seeking the Lord and being broken in prayer over your people and the Word?"..."the Holy Spirit is always there to lead and guide. This is the only input I need"..."Seems to me the pastor should spend more time alone with God and seek his direction ahead of delivery"..."If you are a hireling your method makes sense. If on the other hand, you are a preacher, kin to being a prophet, your method has some serious short fall"..."I just don't recall from scripture where anyone else used a team to develop a sermon"..."If I used this approach I would feel that the Holy Spirit would not be participating in the process"..."It seems a slippery slope to me in an effort to be relevant to all the potential hearers"..."has it come down to asking the sheep for how they want to feed?"..."It appears that this process would lead itself to a message manipulated by a faction of the church not necessarily a message for the church." These comments are going beyond simply saying, "This won't work for me." The implications of these comments are clear: if you consult the "sheep" during the process of preparing a sermon, you are being unbiblical, you are not depending on the Holy Spirit, you are selling out, you are allowing others to dictate the message...in effect, you are not being a pastor. So, please forgive me if I push back on that idea, because I am convinced that that way of thinking is so destructive to our church members . (MORE...)

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 7, 2012

Who among us hasn't wondered why so many of our church members aren't as committed to the Lord and to his church as we would like them to be? Why they are so complacent in living like the rest of the world, and so unaware that God has an infinitely richer life that he wants for them? But how can they be otherwise, when we think so lowly of them? How can they be otherwise, when all we as pastors (and I include myself) expect of our "sheep" is that they come to church, sit down, listen to us tell them what God has to say, and then do it! The system is perfectly designed to produce the results we see. If we don't like the kind of disciples our churches are producing, we need to change the system! We need to change our way of thinking. We need to lay before God our assumptions, motivations, prejudices, and preconceived ideas; and to learn from him how to see people as they truly are, in God. We all know how messed up the church in Corinth was. These people had serious issues. And yet Paul called them "saints." Because that is what they were called to be, in Christ Jesus! So, whether one chooses to have a sermon prep team, quite frankly, is irrelevant. It is the response to such a concept that has stirred my heart. My pastor's heart weeps for how I and other pastors have failed our church members. Christopher Surber, in attacking the idea of a sermon prep team, asked, "Are these folks trained to rightly interpret Scripture[?]" I would hope so; but if they aren't, then the fault is with us as pastors. Because THAT is what we've been supposed to be doing. That is our role, our calling, our responsibility. We've been too busy preaching to the sheep, that we forgot that our calling to the pastoral ministry was to equip the saints! Please, I apologize if my remarks have seemed harsh. I speak not from anger, but from passion, and from sadness. Take my thoughts for what they're worth.

David Trail

commented on Aug 7, 2012

Fernando, brother, I wasn't singling you out, it's been a two way street. We definitely need some "fire" back in religion. I'm all for changing things up once in a while because as humans things can become routine which leads to boredom and leaving the church; not leading to anything confusing but just a little different once in a while, if that makes any sense. Like you said, it is easy to be misunderstood on these forums sometimes. No problems here, and like I mentioned before, we are all on the same side, fighting the same uphill battle against the evil in the world. We need to ban together! God bless brother!!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 7, 2012

David Trail, thank you for your understanding. I didn't feel that you were singling me out, and I took no offense at your comments. But I am very aware that how I come across is not always accurate to what I'm wanting to express, so I thought I'd take this chance to give everyone here an idea of where I was coming from. Sorry for unloading on you--when I started typing that wasn't what I was intending to do! Blessings to you and your ministry!

Jimmie Tempano

commented on Aug 9, 2012

Well, I might as well throw in my two and a half cents. I once heard a pastor say he has to be careful as he is leading sheep because sheep bite. I thought to myself, "It seems to me that this guy views himself as removed and he has forgotten that he is a sheep."

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