I've always been oddly interested in the process various pastors use in preparing to preach. Not just the textual work and crafting of the sermon, but specifically their day of preparation. Personally, I've seen over and over how the quality of my preparation directly impacts the quality of my proclamation. My Sunday morning schedule has changed with our facilities, service times, and other factors, but here's my current Sunday morning process for preparing to preach.
5:30 - Wake Up
I try to be mindful of both what I eat for dinner on Saturday night and what time I go to sleep. Both of these directly impact the way I feel when I wake early Sunday morning. I shower, dress, and eat a light breakfast - usually a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and juice. By 6am I'm out the door and on my way to the office.
6:10 - Prayer
When I get to the office I put music on, brew coffee, and spend 20-30 minutes in prayer. I ask God to prepare my heart, mind, and mouth for the work He's entrusted to me. I pray for those who serve on our teams, asking the Spirit to help them serve with joy and humility. I pray for our congregation, that the Spirit would regenerate the hearts of those who do not know Him and soften the hearts of all our people that will sit under the preaching of God's Word.
6:30 - Final Edit of Notes
I sit down at my desk with a pen and work through my notes for the final time. I try to eliminate unnecessary repetition, look for points requiring further illustration, and make sure I can clearly articulate each aspect of the sermon. My goal is to get it stuffed as deep inside my heart and mind as possible.
7:30 - Production Load In
Our various call times depend on the amount of set-up required of each of our teams. I oversee our production team including our musicians, worship leaders, media, sound, and lighting. We meet our Utility Team at Prospect High School for our load in at 7:30. While they don't need my help, it's a great opportunity to connect with my team and help them get prepared for what God has put before them. By 8am they are usually getting their equipment set up and preparing for line checks and since I can't help with any of this I step out for about 45 minutes to spend some final moments with my sermon.
8:00 - Sermon Run Through
We've had freakishly warm weather in Chicago the last month, so I've been able to go out behind the high school we meet in and run through my entire sermon. I haven't always done this, but with dropping our second service I've felt more prepared to preach if I work through the entirety of the sermon out loud before hand.
8:45 - Production Run Through
Provided we haven't hit any major bumps in our set-up process, we do a full production run through prior to our service. We run the service (intro, call to worship, songs, verbals, announcements, etc.) with the exception of the sermon just as we hope to at 10am. It can feel a bit awkward with no one in the room, but it helps us catch some issues we may not have thought through in our service planning.
9:30 - Connect
We open our doors and have all our teams in place at 9:30 as people begin to arrive. This gives me the opportunity to connect with my family, walk around and thank everyone who is serving, and also greet people as they arrive.
9:50 - Production Team Prayer
Ten minutes prior to the service we gather our team backstage and ask God to do what only He can do. In spite of how hard we work to plan high impact worship gatherings, we are FIRMLY aware that the quality of our gathering isn't contingent on the quality of our execution, but the power of God. Together we beg the Spirit of God to work in us and through us. We ask that He would move in such a way that everyone leave changed.
10:00 - Participate In A Move Of God
After prayer I'm seated in the front row with my wife, Tami, asking God to prepare my heart and the hearts of everyone in the room to hear, receive, and respond to the preaching of His Word. Each week we have the great opportunity of experiencing God save, challenge, and change hearts and lives - we have the privilege of participating in a move of God.
This is what the typical Sunday looks like for me - this is how I prepare to "proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1Pet.2:9). For you pastors, I'd love to hear what your day of process for preparing to preach looks like.
How do you prepare to proclaim?