Tim Keller on Writing a Sermon
Timothy Keller is an American author, speaker, and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, New York. Timothy is the author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.
He was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. However, he learned the most from his nine years as a pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in the small blue-collar town of Hopewell, Virginia. The congregation there loved him, suffered through his earliest days as a pastor, and taught an intellectual northerner to be clear. His second church was Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons.
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.
The Pastor goes through his creative process.
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