These steps are key in developing into a faithful preacher. While not nearly exhaustive, these are a good starting point to follow as you develop and grow as a preacher of the Word.

Step 1: Know your Bible. I mean KNOW your Bible well…all of it.  Read it. Reread it. Love it. Memorize it. Apply it. Pastors and preachers must be men of the book. Hermeneutics is greater than Homiletics because while you can sound great, if you’re doctrinally off, you are poisoning people. Being a student of the WORD is where the biggest emphasis should be placed. (2 Timothy 2:15) Be mastered by the word while allowing it to change and transform your life in a personal way. (James 1:22-25)( 2 Tim 3:16-17) God’s word really is sufficient to handle every situation we are going to face. Know the word! If you can’t explain and summarize the passage of Scripture—or this Sunday’s sermon—in 5 minutes or less, then you probably don’t know it well enough to preach it. Work hard so that you have a solid understanding of the text and can explain it quickly in simple terms. You’ve got to be clear and confident in what the Scripture says before you can effectively teach it to others.

Step 2: Work on your character. Your Character—your testimony—is one of the most powerful and determining factors in ministry. You must be a person of integrity; one who confesses and admits your struggles and failures. Being honest with God, yourself, and those you serve is so important. I don’t need to remind you of how dangerous those who have shipwrecked their faith, by not focusing on their integrity or character, have been to the cause of Christ. No, nobody is perfect. We are fallen humans and it’s important not to forget that but being a person of integrity makes all the difference. The same grace and forgiveness we preach is the same grace and forgiveness we need; however, we still must be honest men of integrity.

Step 3: Serve. Serve in any, and every, capacity in which you are able. Remember, ministry and preaching in particular are acts of service. Staying humble is not easy, though. The moment cleaning a toilet is beneath you, preaching God’s word is beyond you. Jesus preached, but He also served. His actions of service, love and compassion for people cannot be understated. He came to serve. (Philippians 2:1-12)

Step 4: Ministry Communication Workshop. Attend the annual MCWS. The time spent learning the SCOPE process of organizing your sermon and then actually applying it, will revolutionize your approach to preaching, as well as help you train others to preach. Attend this workshop with an open mind, realizing that what you’ve been doing up to this point is most likely not the most effective way to present the scriptures to your church. Take on board what is taught during the workshop and God will transform and sharpen the skills and abilities He has blessed you with. The method taught, along with the practical teaching and experiences gained during the workshop will make you a more effective communicator. Yes, it takes place over a full week. Yes, it’s a difficult and humbling week, but it will help sharpen your tools and make you more effective if you apply the information.

Step 5: Practice and Apply what you’ve learned. Have someone who will hold you accountable. Someone who will be brutally honest with you as they evaluate and help you grow. Don’t get offended when they point out weak areas, as they are there to help you grow. Record your sermons and go back and listen to them again. Take notes, make changes and work to constantly improve upon where you are now. Have someone you can meet with regularly and bounce ideas off. Find another pastor friend, and work together to develop a preaching calendar for the year. Each of you will study and write a sermon on the same passage. Afterwards, share it with each other. Just because you both read the same passage, doesn’t mean you will both write the same sermon. You will find things in their study that will benefit you and your congregation, and vice versa.

Step 6: Listen to other good preachers with different styles from your own. The important point here is not to copy anyone else’s preaching style. God has created each one of us unique with different personalities and styles, but listening to a variety of other solid biblical preachers can help us grow, develop, and learn.

Step 7: Continue to grow and learn. The books you’ve already listed on the BCMN blog are so valuable to anyone preacher—Biblical Preaching by Robinson, Christ Centered Preaching by Chapel, The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching by Willhite and Gibson. Preaching with Freshness by Mawhinney and Preaching with Passion by Montoya are also wonderful resources, as well as the many other solid books recommended by Pastor Ben Jennings and others in the BCMN blog/Video, along with several others mentioned in the adjacent Facebook comments.

Step 8. Practice! Practice! Practice!  Preach every opportunity you can get. If you are not currently writing a sermon a week, you should be. Develop a catalog/spread sheet of your sermons in which you can search quickly, and even go back and rework them after you’ve preached them, to edit and make necessary changes. Note every sermon you preach in a spread sheet by listing the date, location, passage, sermon title, and any specific things that happened as a result/response to the sermon, along with anything special—or even odd—which occurred that might help you know what you’ve preached, and where. When asked to preach someplace that isn’t your local church on very short notice, you can pull out a sermon you’ve already got in your repertoire. If it’s not worth preaching at least 2 times, it probably wasn’t worth preaching the first time. 

I’ll never forget when Dr. Harju, at the 50th anniversary of Bible Baptist Church in Crane, Missouri, opened his Bible and pulled out his notes. He said that 50 years ago, on such-and-such date, he had preached the first sermon at that church, and then proceeded to preach the exact same sermon again that day. It is also good to have a reminder of what God has done for you when you face moments of discouragement.  I’ll often look back through my spreadsheet to see how God has worked in the past, to encourage and remind myself of God’s faithfulness. As well as preaching, you can also teach Sunday school classes, preach in nursing homes, lead in devotions and Bible studies. The more opportunities you have to preach and teach, the more you will grow and develop.

Step 9: Love the people you serve. (Ephesians 4:15) We are to speak the truth in Love.  Remember God loves the people you get to preach to far more than you ever could. If God loves them so much that He was willing to send Jesus to die for them, our preaching, and interactions with them should reflect this love. Yes, it has to be the truth. Yes, that truth can be hard to deliver and hard to swallow at times, but it must be conveyed in love. As a missionary, I had the privilege of traveling and listening to many great preachers. I was amazed at the times when I saw preachers who were clearly not gifted public speakers, but their church was still healthy, thriving, and vibrant. I wondered how this could be, but then saw the pastor’s interactions with the people and understood that his best quality was that he loved them with the love of Christ. This is what brought them back every week—not his sermons.

I also witnessed a few others who could preach up a storm, but their churches had to close their doors because no one was showing up to church. While the pastor could preach a powerful message, he showed no love for the people, and this was sadly apparent to everyone. Perhaps these pastors were young guys who had only taken the position with hopes of moving on to a bigger church in the future, or someone who never learned that the heart of the church was the people inside it. I don’t know all the circumstances but give me a pastor who loves me and cares for my soul over one who can just preach a good sermon.

Step 10: Remain faithful. Stick to the Word and do not depart from it. Keep it simple. The Gospel is not complicated, and we are not trying to reinvent the wheel. There is one way to get to heaven and that is by repenting of our sin and trusting in the completed work of Christ to save us.

(I Corinthians 1:18-25) God chose the foolishness of preaching! It’s God who does the work. It’s our job to remain faithful and not waver from the truth. He is the one who causes the seed to grow, brings the fruit, and collects the harvest. It is our job to simply be faithful in the work.