How to prepare a sermon – part 7


Step 7: Keep Learning

We have reached the final stage of sermon preparation. It’s not really a step that you ever move away from, so it is more accurately described as a state, or an attitude that a preacher must have: keep learning.

A biblical preacher is someone who cares deeply about bringing the Word of God to the people of God. Preaching is not simply listing the propositional truths that are found in various bits of the Bible to the gathered congregation, but it is the bringing of God’s revealed word in a manner that listeners can understand, relate to, and be challenged by. Here’s a few things that I have found helpful for my continued learning:


The dreaded feedback! However this is one of the ways that all preachers can improve, from the youngest to the most experienced. What better way is there to assess the impact of our preaching than to ask the people who hear us preach?

I found that feedback on my preaching was one of the most formative experiences as I underwent the Cornhill Training Course here in Belfast. Cornhill also offer various refresher courses for those currently in ministry who want to brush up.

As a trainee preacher, it is well worth getting feedback from your pastor or one of the elders: it might feel painful and awkward at the start, but not only good for your sanctification, it is a worthwhile tool in your ongoing quest to improve your preaching. Even the sharpest criticism contains a kernel of truth. Listen and reflect before reacting.


I have read some excellent books on preaching. Here are some of my favourites:

Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A classic by perhaps the greatest preacher of the twentieth century. One of the first books I read that taught the importance of gospel preaching to both believers and sceptics.

Christ-Centred Preaching by Bryan Chapell: A textbook on preaching. Wonderfully argued and clearly laid out. Focuses on the more technical aspects of the sermon. Having heard Chapell preach in the flesh, I can vouch that his method is impeccable and his delivery is captivating. A reference text.

Preaching by Timothy Keller: The most recent of all three books, by one of the greatest preachers of our generation. Keller deals wisely with the engagement of culture necessary to powerful preaching in the contemporary setting.

Learning the Culture

The more a preacher understands his listeners and the culture that they are part of (the things they value, the things they sacrifice time and money for, their markers of success and fulfilment, the cultural taboos etc.), the more ably and deftly he can apply the riches of biblical truth to their situation.

There are innumerable ways to seek a deeper understanding of the prevalent culture your hearers are immersed in: from visual art, cinema, literature, politics, current affairs, newspaper op-eds through to philosophy of modern thought and commentators on culture from all quarters. Keller will help you here (see his book Preaching) as will Francis Schaeffer. 

The point with all this is not to become a total nerd and an expert on University Challenge, but to understand the dominant thought-patterns and values of the prevalent culture that you are preaching into: viewing culture through a biblically-informed worldview. The clearer we  see the truths of scripture and the ‘truths’ of our culture, the more penetrating and life-changing our preaching will become. 

Keep an eye out for further articles on preaching at King Solomon’s Beard!