3 Tips to Be More Efficient with Sermon Prep


Being a pastor isn’t a typical day job. You’re pretty much on call 24/7, and it’s rare that you ever have the ability to devote 100% of your attention for an extended period of time to any one thing. That’s just the nature of the job. Being a pastor is a lot more than speaking on a Sunday.

But… sermon preparation is incredibly important and it’s a weekly activity. While you probably get faster the more you do it, it’s also gets easier and easier to let distractions get in the way. While you’re more than capable of pulling together a sermon in a short span of time, you notice yourself becoming less and less efficient as time goes on.

Being More Efficient with Sermon Prep

If you are looking to get more efficient with your sermon preparation, there are several things you can start doing.

Categorical Outlining

Outlines are important for anything, but categorical outlining is a bit different. This refers to deciding on an order or process for the various “categories” you go through during your sermon. This includes scripture readings, describing, sharing stories, analogies, etc.

If you can outline the overarching categories of your sermon before you begin diving into the details of your message, you’ll be exponentially quicker and more efficient with sermon prep.

Scheduled Preparation

If you’ve been prepping your sermons “whenever you have time”, there’s a chance that it is negatively affecting your ability to be efficient with your time. It’s incredibly important that you schedule time to prepare. While each person is going to operate differently, we suggest you make a schedule similar to the following:

Set aside a large chunk of time for your initial planning. Get a few hours in the books early in the week to sit down, map out a theme, timeline, and get all your materials together without distractions. That involves all Bible references, analogies, stories, etc. You don’t need to jump into every minute detail, but get the rough scope and plan of the entire sermon mapped out so that all that remains is “filling in the gaps”.

You should then schedule shorter periods of time through the remainder of the week to “polish” things. Practice sections of the sermon, work on transitional pieces, figure out which sections of scripture need further elaboration, and get into the details. Finally, a day or two before your sermon, make sure you run through it multiple times to smooth out any rough edges.

Bottom line is – start with a large chunk of time with 100% of your attention devoted to getting the bulk of the sermon done. It will then be easier to finish smaller pieces of the sermon throughout the week, and allow you to be significantly more efficient with your sermon preparation.

Find What Times You Work Best During

This is going to be completely unique to each person. Some people work better bright and early in the morning. Others generate their best ideas and focus at nighttime. Try a few different methods for a couple weeks at a time. Find which times you feel the most distraction-free, productive, and inspired during. Use that as a guide for planning the rest of your weekly sermon prep schedule.

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.

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