Preparing to Preach Through A Book of the Bible

images This morning I spent some time working on a new series of messages that I am going to be preaching on Sunday nights beginning in March through the book of Jude so I thought that for today’s post I would share some tips about how to prepare yourself to preach through a book of the Bible.  Here are a few tips about how to get started:


1. Choose the book you will want to preach through– I try to alternate between preaching through Old and New Testament books.  Since I am getting ready to wrap up a series through Genesis, I wanted to preach from the New Testament.  As I prayed about it and read through the New Testament, I felt lead to preach through Jude.  In this instance, I felt a strong leading towards Jude, but in the past there have been various reasons why I choose a certain book to preach.  Sometimes the book covered an issue that related to something going on in the church or culture that I felt needed to be addressed.  A few times, I have simply chosen a book with little rhyme or reason why.  Some may be uncomfortable with that but honestly God has never failed to meet me in the study of His Word.  All of the books are inspired and all of them are profitable, so just pick one and get started.

2. Read the book multiple times– Right now I am preparing to preach through Jude which is very short, therefore, I have been able to read through it everyday for the last two weeks.  With a longer book you will need to give yourself more lead time, but basically the goal is to read through the book multiple times in order to get familar with it and to let God begin to shape the messages in your heart.

3. Do Background Research– This is the grunt work that needs to be done in order to properly understand and interpret the book.  90% of what you learn in this process will not make it into the actual messages but you must do the work in order to understand the book.  Remember this simple adage, “The text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean in its original context.”  As preachers of the gospel it is our job to bridge the gap between the time when the text was originally written until now.  Right now I am deep in this process as I begin to prepare the messages from Jude.  All of this week I am immersing myself in the background information about Jude, trying to understand the original context as best I can.  That means getting out the commentaries, introductions, and Biblical encyclopedias and doing some good research.

4.  Find the connecting theme for the book and sermon series– For a book like Jude this is rather simple because in v.3 the author states, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”  The writer comes right out and tells us what the book is going to be about.  In other cases, this process is a little more difficult and you will have to do a good bit of research to discover the theme.  But you should not start preaching the series until you have the overall theme of the book clearly in your mind.  This will serve as the hook or anchor for the entire series.

5. Find how the books presents the Gospel– Every book of the Bible has something to say about and contribute to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If we want to have gospel centered preaching we need to carefully look for how the book relates to the gospel.  You are not ready to preach the book until you can clearly see how it relates to the gospel.

4. Put together and outline of the book and series- As much as I possibly can I want to let the shape of the Biblical text determine the shape of the sermons series.  In other words, I want to follow the natural outline of the Biblical text in determining how the sermon series is going to unfold.  Sometimes this process is fairly easy and straightforward but at other times it can be very challenging.  I usually have to spend the better part of a week determining the outline for the book and series.  Consulting outlines in commentaries and Biblical dictionaries /encyclopedias can be helpful.

5. Write the individual messages– I know some guys who do this far in advance and I have tried this on several occasions but most of the time I am writing the individual messages on the week that I am preaching the text.  I will give you more about this on next Friday.  But for now I would love to hear about how you are go about preparing to preach a series.  Share some of your methods in the comments sections.

9 thoughts on “Preparing to Preach Through A Book of the Bible

  1. I appreciate your candor on #5 – I have friends who are a month out on their sermons. While I have a good feel for the direction the sermon takes, I find that I am writing them the week they are delivered.

  2. Jon,

    I think this is where the majority of Pastors end up. Frankly, I don’t know many Pastors who can find the time to do the work of writing sermons very far in advance. I also find that I need to spend time during the week letting God prepare my heart and for the message to sink deep into my heart. When I have tried to prepare far in advance I have struggled with this.

  3. Joe, I found this helpful. I am new to Pastoral ministry. Yes, my first church. God has given me discernment for what needs addressed here, you might say that “shoring up the foundation” is where He has had me preaching lately. But, I tend to rely on God more than picking a book to preach through. I know some would say they don’t do that. However I don’t see how you can effectively lead a body if you as the Pastor is not being lead by the Master on where you are to lead them. I know some do this, and yes I know I haven’t been preaching long compared to you or most out there, but I can see your view as well. I find that when I write my sermons out, I don’t get good feedback. Only when I take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me where to go with the text is when I see God moving in the hearts of the congregation. I personally would rather have it this way. Don’t get me wrong, I often make notes when I think of good points, but that’s as far as it usually goes. I speak plainly and straight forward, I am often told that I am very blunt. I have to give credit where it’s due and it all goes to God.

  4. Richard,

    I appreciate your emphasis on the Holy Spirit guiding and empowering us in our preaching. Without the unction of the Holy Spirit we will never be effective in the preaching ministry. One of the chief reasons I like preaching through books is that the Holy Spirit meets me in the study in the time and directs my experiences over the course of preparation to be ready to preach. Whether or not to preach from notes and the extent of those notes will vary from Pastor to Pastor.


  5. The only major difference in your process and what I am currently doing in our church plant situation is that we set specific time frames on the book. For example I am preaching through 1 Corinthians this year, and before I had the book outlined I knew I had up to 36 sermons to walk through the book. Because we also wanted to spend 4 weeks in Jonah and leave the other 12 sermons for other elders and special occasions. I did not do this early in my ministry, but was challenged to think more this way at the 9 Marks weekender I attended last March. Dever plans based on quarters and never spends more than 2 quarters on a book. This approach has its weaknesses of course, but it helps me to think about preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word and not spending too much time in one book to the exclusion of others.

  6. I have preached through books of the Bible for 23 years. I believe it challenges the pastor to ground his theology and forces him to deal with issues he would like to avoid. In short, preach the “Whole Council of God.”

  7. Michael,

    I could not agree more. Preaching through the BIble one book of the time is the best way to make sure that you preach the “Whole counsel of the word of God.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s