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5 Questions BEFORE You Preach


Keep the content of your sermon focused in the right places.

I’m preaching in my church’s main service this upcoming Sunday, so I’ve been busy preparing what God would have me say to our church family.

Every time I preach/teach, I keep these five questions before me as a sort of grid to keep my content focused in the right places. These aren’t my own questions; I think I stole the basic framework from Bob Hyatt (I honestly can’t remember), but over the years I’ve tweaked and shaped them into my own.

Here are five questions I ask myself as I prepare a message: Where in the message do I …

1. Clearly point to Jesus?

Whatever the topic or the passage of Scripture that we’re addressing, I strive to preach Jesus every single time.

I tend to lean toward narrative preaching, having been influenced by Eugene Lowry’s book, The Homiletical Plot. In the narrative of the sermon, the Gospel message and the person of Jesus tend to be the “climax” of each story, with the whole sermonic narrative leading up to Him.

I strive to share about the Father and Holy Spirit too, keeping the sermon trinitarian, but the nature of kerygma is to preach Christ and Him crucified.

2. Speak to Christians? 

I try to specifically address the Christians listening to the sermon, acknowledging that even if a person has been in church and following Jesus for a long time, the gospel is still good news.

Good news never gets old, and Christians need specific and clear reminders of its goodness.

3. Speak to non-Christians? 

I also try to address people who may be investigating spirituality and Christianity who are not yet followers of Christ, usually with a statement preceded by “if you’re just checking out church and this whole Jesus thing, then … “

This is out of a desire to be inclusive and to recognize/acknowledge that not everyone in a church or youth service knows Jesus yet. I don’t have a hidden agenda either. I make my agenda quite clear — I hope they come to know Jesus because He’s the source of life and love and joy and grace.

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Joel Mayward

Joel Mayward

Joel Mayward is a pastor, writer, youth worker, and film critic. The author of three books, he has written for numerous ministry publications, including Christianity Today, Christ and Pop Culture, Leadership Journal, YouthWorker Journal, Immerse Journal, The Youth Cartel, and LeaderTreks. You can read his musings on film, theology, and culture at his personal blog, For his film reviews and essays, check out Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelmayward.

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