Preparing to Preach: Five Keys for the Preacher’s Long-Range Planning

Preparing to Preach: Five Keys for the Preacher’s Long-Range Planning

As with any craft, preaching requires intentional disciplines which help form both the sermon as well as the preacher. The following practices, from Prof. John Pless’ Pastoral Theology class at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will prove to be beneficial for a preacher’s regular long-range planning.

1) Block out two days each quarter to plan the Services so that you are always three months ahead. Study the lectionary. Decide on a preaching text. Select hymns.  Write a one paragraph summary of the theme of each Sunday that can be used in the service folder. This exercise will also help you to begin thinking about upcoming sermons. Knowing what is coming up will make you more alert to gathering material and crafting thoughts which you may want to use in the sermon.

 2) Coordinate your personal reading/study with your preaching. For example, read a biography of Luther during October in preparation for Reformation Sunday or a book on the crucifixion in Lent (for example, Martin Hengel, Crucifixion).  Read the sermons of others (Luther, Sasse, Thielicke, Giertz, Nagel, Bonhoeffer etc).

3) To help you keep your own approach to preaching fresh, read a different book on homiletics each summer. (*Suggested titles are listed below.)

4) An ongoing devotional life rich in Scripture and geared by the movement of the Church Year will be a source of personal refreshment. This discipline will inevitably flow over into preaching. John Doberstein’s The Minister’s Prayer Book remains unsurpassed in this regard. 

5) Read “good”, non-theological literature (novels, short stories, poetry) as a window into the excellence of what writing can be and do. This will not only shape your own power of expression and use of language, but also deepen your insights into the realities of human existence.

*Suggested Books:

Birkholz, M., Corzine, J., and Mumme, J (editors). Feasting in a Famine of the

   Word. Pickwick, 2015

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Collected Sermons f Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Isabel Best.

   Fortress Press, 2012.

Buttrick, David. Homiletic: Moves and Structures. Fortress, 1987

Caemmerer, Richard. Preaching for the Church. Concordia, 1959

Collver, Albert B.; Nestingen, James; Pless, John T. (editors). The Necessary Distinction:

   Continuing Conversations on Law and Gospel. Concordia, 2017

Davis, H. Grady. Design for Preaching. Fortress, 1958

Fant, Clyde. Bonhoeffer: Worldly Preaching. Thomas Nelson, 1975

Forde, Gerhard. The Captivation of the Will. Eerdmans, 2005

Forde, Gerhard. The Preached God. Eerdmans, 2007

Giertz, Bo. Then Fell the Lord’s Fire. Magdeburg Press, 2012

Hendrix, Scott (editor/translator). Preaching the Reformation: The Homiletical Handbook of

  Urbanus Rhegius. Marquette, 2003

Koch, John D. Jr. The Distinction Between Law and Gospel as the Basis and Boundary of

   Theological Reflection. Mohr Siebeck, 2017

Kolb, Robert. Martin Luther and the Enduring Word of God: The Wittenberg School and its

   Scripture Centered Proclamation. Baker Academic, 2016

Linebaugh, Jonathan (editor). God’s Two Words: Law and Gospel in the Lutheran and

   Reformed Traditions. Eerdmans, 2018

Lischer, Richard (ed). The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching Augustine to the

   Present. Eerdmans, 2002

Lischer, Richard. Theories of Preaching. Labyrinth, 1987

Long, Thomas. The Witness of Preaching. Westminster/John Knox, 2005

Lose, David J. Confessing Jesus Christ: Preaching in a Postmodern World. Eerdmans, 2003

Maxfield John (ed.). Preaching Through the Ages: Pieper Lectures 2003. Luther Academy, 2004

Meuser, Fred. Luther the Preacher. Augsburg, 1983

Ngien, Dennis. Luther’s Theology of the Cross: Christ in Luther’s Sermons on John. Pickwick, 2018

Paulson, Steven. Luther’s Outlaw God. Fortress, 2018

Reu. J. Michel. Homiletics. Wartburg, 1922

Reuter, Alvin C. Making Good Preaching Better. The Liturgical Press, 1997

Sasse, Hermann. Witness: Erlangen Sermons and Essays for the Church 1933-

   1944,  trans. Bror Erickson. Magdeburg, 2013

Stott, John R.W. Between Two Worlds. Eerdmans, 1982

Stuempfle, Herman. Preaching Law and Gospel. Fortress, 1978

Thielicke, Helmut. The Trouble with the Church. Harper and Row, 1965

Thompson, Virgil (ed). Justification is for Preaching. Pickwick, 2012

Tostengard, Shelton A. The Spoken Word. Fortress, 1989

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