The Rigour of Writing

April 24, 2009

For me, there is no harder aspect in the preaching process than physically writing the sermon manuscript.  I love to study and I love to preach. But sermon-writing?

Its somewhat hard to convey to people who don’t regularly preach just how discouraging a blank sheet of paper can seem on a Monday morning!  Somehow we must fill this blank canvas with words. Moreover, they must be fresh words; they must be God’s words; yet at the same time they must be conveyed in our words.

Now I don’t struggle with every part of sermon preparation. The first part of the process I do find rigorous but at the same time, highly enjoyable. I listen to what God is saying by studying the passage in considerable depth. With the aid of helpful tools and great Christian thinkers, I’m usually ‘enthused early’ about what I’m learning from God’s Word.

But still, the toughest part lies ahead. I must convey the truths I have learned to others. Writing becomes an important discipline in achieving this aim. But oh, how difficult it is!

I sometimes wonder if its any coincidence that writing and wrestling begin with the same two letters. Writing often feels like a wrestling match. We struggle with words. Sometimes they seem to be getting the better of us. With hard work, we manage to press them into submission, with clear sentences, logical paragraphs and apt word choices.  Yet because of the struggle, sometimes I feel I need a ball and chain to keep me seated at my desk! It is painful to seek to give birth to words.

Its now Friday lunchtime. My manuscript is written. Thanks to God’s grace, I’m satisfied.

But boy….that was hard work!



  1. AMEN to that!!! im glad im not the only one…

  2. I’m not a manuscript preacher so when I reach the point of writing I follow a very loose outline. Then I simply write. More often than not the end product is not what I started with in my mind. After reading it, I rebuild the outline to carry to the pulpit. This reduces the stress of writing as I know that first rough draft will never see the pulpit.

  3. Well, you don’t HAVE to write out a full manuscript, you know. Perhaps preparing a very full outline would be better. Or, maybe, just a 3×5 index card with your main points would be best. Do you prepare a full manuscript because you feel that you are not good at extempore preaching?

  4. […] The Rigour of Writing […]

  5. As long as a preacher is writing his sermon for his own meditation and then for clarity in the pulpit ok. But I see to many expository preachers reading their sermons instead of preaching them. There is a difference.

    My 2 cents worth. Write to be clear. Then preach with out reading the sermon.

  6. C,
    So true. This is the hardest aspect of the sermon prep process.

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