Question: How do you write a sermon?Tim Keller: So, two weeks ahead I sit down with the text of the passage of the Bible I’m going to preach on and I spent about four hours figuring out what I think the outline of that text is, the meaning of the text. I need to look up what the commentators think about, maybe problematic verses. And I come up with an outline and a basic, you might say, an exegesis or an exposition of the passage itself.
I write this up and I send it to my musicians. We’re going to be putting it in a bulletin and then they’re going to be choosing music for it. I send it to other preachers who some of them are going to be preaching sermons on the same text.
Then, three days before, I sit down with this outline and I spend another four hours turning the bible study into a sermon--and they’re not the same thing. Bible study is more abstract, what does the text say. The sermon is more life related, what does this mean to me.
So I spend four hours two weeks ahead on the text. I spend four hours turning it into a life-related sermon and that’s usually on the Friday before. And then on Saturday, I spend another six hours on it just trying to make it shorter, because it’s always too long and so I make it shorter, make it shorter, make it shorter, make it shorter.
So I spend about 14 to 16 hours a week writing a sermon and I spend all day preaching it because I speak four times on a Sunday. And so I actually put in about 25 hours a week into producing and delivering one public speaking presentation before I do anything else in my job.
Recorded on: Dec 8, 2008.