3 Ways to Write Better Sermons

preaching Mar 26, 2024

Do you want to write better sermons week in and week out?

I know, that’s kind of a silly question. Of course you do. Who wouldn’t?

You and I both know how important preaching is to the mission of the church. After all, Jesus was a preacher—a masterful one.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Wise preachers know that improving in the craft of preaching is something they’ll need to work on for the rest of their lives.

A Sermon Changed His Life

My life, that is.

You see, I didn’t grow up in church. And by the time I was twenty, I was searching for answers to some big questions.

But it wasn’t an apologetics sermon that changed my life. It was a message about the love of Jesus and the work He accomplished.

That Sunday, in the midst of a business conference that hosted an optional church service as a part of it (that’s Amway for you), my life’s trajectory changed dramatically.

Friend, never doubt the importance of your preaching. 

Take it from me. A sermon changed my life.

God has been working in and through you. And He will continue to do so as you follow and serve and love Him.

3 Ways to Write Better Sermons

So how can you write better sermons?

I want to show you three ways.

1. Structure

I am convinced that improving your sermon structure is the best step most preachers can take in their preaching.

Many sermons could have gone from a 6/10 to a 8/10 if they structured it better.

Same content. Different structure.

That heartfelt story you shared in the middle?

Put that at the beginning. Then take that lesser illustration (we all know that not every sermon illustration is created equal) and put it in the middle.

Then toward the end? Call back to that heartfelt story and point the congregation back to the bottom line you discovered in the text.

A lack of good structure, I believe, is most often attributed to not outlining your sermon before you write it.

Outlining your sermon before you write it:

  • allows you to see the big picture of the message
  • helps you see any opportunities for tweaks
  • shows whether or not the message will flow naturally
  • displays the pacing of the sermon (do you need to add an illustration here or maybe there?)

If you’re not sure how to structure your sermon, I highly recommend the sticky sermon structure. 

2. Illustrations

My wife and I recently got to experience something neither one of us thought we would ever get to do.

A local college here in Northeast Indiana was celebrating their 100th year anniversary. And to kick off their celebration, they hosted Dr. Tony Evans as a speaker.

We got tickets and were able to attend.

It was an amazing night of worship and then when Dr. Evans got up to speak, y’all it was a clinic in preaching.

He was funny. He was skilled.

But do you know what stuck out more than anything else? 

His use of sermon illustrations. There were so many that I couldn’t keep count.

And while you and I are not Dr. Tony Evans (unless you’re reading this, Doc and in that case, hey!), we can take for ourselves a valuable lesson from him:

Use more sermon illustrations.

If you want to write better sermons, spend more time meditating and reflecting on the text and write down more illustration ideas.

And they don’t all have to be personal stories.

Use analogies. Use news stories. Use anecdotes from books.

In order to do this consistently, you need a system for discovering and collecting sermon illustrations.

You’ve got to look for them. And when you do, use them.

Most sermons could use an additional sermon illustration or five sprinkled in to show what you’re telling.

3. Editing

“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” - Stephen King

The same is true when you write a sermon.

Unfortunately, you don’t have as much time with a sermon as you do a book. 

But that doesn’t mean you skip this step.

After you’ve written your sermon, it’s important to go through it and identify anything that can be cut. 

But how do I know what to cut, Brandon?

Good question. My best answer is, it depends.

It all depends on the particular sermon you’re writing. Does that rabbit trail need to be followed? Could it be cut in half? For sure. Could it be cut entirely? Probably.

Does that subp-point need that much time devoted to it?

If you’re asking the question, the answer is probably cut it down.

What do I do with the stuff I’m going to edit out?

Another good question. 

Don’t just press delete. Instead, cut and paste it into a note or another document for safe keeping when you can use it in a different sermon. My tool of choice is still Evernote. But whatever you use, save it.

So which one do you need to focus on most?

  • Structure?
  • Illustrations?
  • Editing? 

Just pick one and focus on it for your next sermon.

What would you add?

I’m curious, what would you add to this list? Let me know on Twitter or join my private Facebook group for pastors and join the discussion.

Grow in Your Preaching

If you want to be faithful to the text, prepare efficiently, and craft your sermon memorably, I’ve got just the thing to help. It’s called the 10-step guide to writing a sticky sermon and it’s yours for free. Just click here to grab your copy.

Write sermons that stick!

Learn the 10-step process to crafting and writing a memorable, transformational sermon. Download this free guide today.

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