categories:, communication, leadership, preaching
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April 29th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

22 comments (+ Add)

Harder Work

We’re talking about the importance of “bringing” you in a message to your church.

To bring you means you’ll have to spend more time in study and prayer.

(Notice I didn’t say research. Studying the text is vital, but don’t stop there.)

  • A “Saturday night special” sermon that you throw together won’t likely empower you to bring you.
  • A sermon you lifted from won’t do the trick either. (I made up that site.)
  • A rehashed sermon you preached five years ago will likely feel like a rehashed sermon you preached five years ago.

You must live the message. Breathe the message. Experience God’s Spirit speaking to you. That generally takes time. In my opinion, the best messages are usually ones that are born out of days or weeks of wrestling with God’s Word.

When possible, I suggest:

  • Spend four days preparing three hours a day rather than one twelve-hour day. (This gives your Spirit and mind time to process what God is saying to you.)
  • Interview a few other people about the text. See how God speaks to them. God might say something to you through them.
  • Let the message “cook.” Instead of microwaving a message, give God time to slowly burn the message on your heart.

If you are unwilling to do what it takes to bring you, your effectiveness as a biblical communicator will be drastically limited.

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there are a total of22
  1. Apr 29, 2008 at 5:29 am

    i once read a quote that a man’s life is the quality of his communications. i think it’s not only teaching but our witness where we simply fail to bring ourselves.

    man if we are god’s workmanship then playing a role or leaving ourselves out of it must break the heart of god.

  2. Apr 29, 2008 at 6:24 am

    good stuff, I been guilty of “pressure-cooking” my sermons in the past. Investing the time to make it your own, even if the material isn’t original, and getting God to work through you so it flows out to others- that will bring the message home to people’s hearts.

  3. Apr 29, 2008 at 6:44 am

    “You must live the message. Breathe the message. Experience God’s Spirit speaking to you.”

    For clarification here… I am teacher, not a preacher. A couple of weeks ago, I had the lesson all planned out. I had spent much time on my knees and buried in the text. Five minutes into the lesson, it was like being bopped on the head. Needless to say, I change the direction of how I was teaching. I even shared with my class why I was doing so. I simply could not go about doing the lesson the way I had planned. Ahhh. Part of the lesson was understanding that even when we think we know the plan, plans can change and we must remain flexible. We must be willing to move when He says move or how He says to move. A couple of hearts that were relatively hardened… became softer that day. What if I had been unwilling to listen? I remain beyond grateful for that day.

  4. Apr 29, 2008 at 6:44 am

    The one thing that runs through my mind on this is: Do I like to eat fresh bread or stale bread? It is my job as the pastor to bring fresh bread because that is what God calls me to do. I was not called to bring croutons, stale and hard to eat.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. Apr 29, 2008 at 6:53 am

    Convicting, if I answer honestly. I LOVE the Open Network. Watch it, own it, change it, and preach it. But still convicted. Trying to find that elusive balance between the greatest resources and stretching myself and trusting God in all aspects.

  6. Apr 29, 2008 at 7:03 am


    When I first started preaching I was taught by a very wise older pastor that one of the keys to preaching is study. (One of the keys). I personally think it is a sin to be unprepared, giving the people who come to hear a “word from God” leftovers from my week. My mentor called it “soaking the beans.” He taught me to start prep 4 weeks ahead of time and you will avoid preaching angry and will avoid giving the people 2nd best. I still do that 30 years later. Except for the 3 or 4 times I have sensed God saying, “I don’t want you to preach that, I want you to say this” I have avoided the Saturday night “pressure cooker.” I am forever grateful.

    As for rehashed sermons, have you ever had rehashed hash? Shiver…

  7. Apr 29, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Good stuff in here. I spend time througout the week thinking about and reading the text in different translations to get a different perspective on the passage. Then I spend one day writing it all out and thinking about illustrations to bring it into where we live. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be me, and no one else!

  8. Apr 29, 2008 at 7:30 am

    I am constantly getting my butt kicked on this blog…in a good way.

    I finally found a place I feel competent to comment. I spend 4 mornings a week studying, I find the mornings are when I am the freshest, and my mind is working the best. Also I haven’t had a days worth of info and meetings floating around in my head.

    I have sat through many sermons where you can tell they either got it off the web, threw it together over breakfast, or just read a passage and told a bunch of stories. I have vowed to God that I will not do that. By His grace, so far I haven’t…

  9. Apr 29, 2008 at 7:36 am

    I can’t agree more. I have found that some messages take years to prepare and you better not rush them either. It’s all about getting in sync with God.

  10. Apr 29, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Interviewing others is huge! One of my regular practices is to talk my message through with a few different people to help me clarify and reduce the fluff. I talked to 3 people before my last talk on it was a huge help. Sometimes we need help on how to say something, if we we should say it, or if something is missing. I can’t prepare all alone!!!

    Craig, when you talk about studying a few hours a day I totally smiled. I do that!!! My biggest reason for it is that as a communicator with ADD :) I can’t do 12 hours secluded in my office or place of study - I have to clear my head.

    Great post!

  11. Apr 29, 2008 at 7:49 am

    I love learning from other Pastors and to be frank I’m not good at outlining a whole series. Very often my framework for a series comes from OPEN or other sources. Here’s the condensed version of my week of preparation.

    I take the outline or transcript and I read it through.
    I then read the passage in a few translations.
    I study commentaries.
    I think about how I take the timeless truth and apply to today.
    I go back and remove all personal illustrations from the transcript. I don’t do that right away because I value the insight from the person and want to let that sink in.
    After that I work on it at different points during the week and really sense what God wants to say through me.
    I write and rewrite.
    I think about our people and how I need to communicate in a way that best connects with them. How do I say it so they hear it.
    This process starts on Monday morning and ends on Saturday afternoon (with the exception of Friday - my day off)

    Don’t feel guilty about getting a start from a message series on Open or anywhere else for that matter. It is God’s stuff anyhow. Some of us struggle with getting the ball rolling. Thanks Craig and others who make their material available - it helps me.

  12. Apr 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

    I like that you talk about letting the message “cook”. I’ve always used the word “marinate” to describe the process of letting the message sink in as you live with it for a while before you preach it.

  13. Apr 29, 2008 at 9:10 am

    great insight and wisdom craig…for me i have to “stew” on messages for a while…i have to think about the message/topic/idea a lot but dont start to write till a few days before…if i dont stew, it will suck…ive also found that their is a lot of linkage between me stewing on something and me caring about something…no stew, no care…lots of stew, lots of care…which then translates (hopefully) into the message…peace…mike.

  14. Apr 29, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Man - this site is fully of great stuff. Thanks Craig.

    I see the role of the worship leader in the same way. I try to get a pretty good idea of the flow and direction of the service at least a week before it happens so that I can play through the whole experience in my head several times before I get to rehearsal - I find doing that really helpful.

  15. Apr 29, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Okay I am glad I wasn’t the only who chuckled at the “soaking the beans” phrase. When I read it I got this mental picture an old dude in a hot tub at my gym…

  16. Apr 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing Ps. Craig. As a young youth pastor, I feel as if I’ve already experienced the feeling of delivering messages that I’ve “lived” vs. those that I just simply “preached.” I remember thinking one week that I never again wanted to teach God’s word and lead others from “3rd person.” It has to be “1st person!” Thanks again for framing it (bringing you)in such a clear way.

  17. Apr 29, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    This is perhaps the most challenging blog post since my time as a Swerve Reader.

    I am an avid fan of OPEN and it is vanguard in its resource offerings. The balancing act discussed in earlier comments is one that I have been convicted off. In terms of research, I excel and at a rather large church I was once in charge of Research & Development. Yet, my weakness is bringing me-i.e. preaching from a script and not seeming like it is from a script. I do not want to make the sermon about me, but I need to bring myself. I need to study more-personally and in ministry.

    Thank you!

  18. 20nick waters
    Apr 30, 2008 at 9:24 am


    I wish I could accurately capture my sincerity…

    Thank you for your authenticity.

    This blog, and this week’s topic, are so genuinely profound to me. It stirs something good within me to read what you’ve written for the past two days. God help us all to be so real.

    Again, thank you.

  19. 21Jared B.
    Apr 30, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Wow, great stuff Craig! I can definitely use this stuff…I think I tend to microwave my sermons..

  20. May 2, 2008 at 11:50 am

    [...] You can read more from Craig here. [...]