When you begin to plan ahead, when you listen everywhere, when you learn to relax, it won’t be long before you’ll begin to gather a lot of ideas, thoughts, illustrations and principles. How will you keep track of them all? What will you do with them until you can put them into a sermon or lesson? You may be able to remember a few of them for a few days, but what will you do when you get so many, you can no longer remember them? How will you save them when you come across them so that you can find them later?

Here’s a simple method to record and store all this material.


Since a good message takes several weeks or months to develop, you will need some way of keeping all those messages you are working on in some kind of order. I use a sermon/ lesson plan, but I didn’t buy it anywhere. It’s a form I developed myself. I like to preach series, taking several weeks on a topic before moving on to another. So I included a place to write in the series name. For instance, one summer I preached two months on “The Weapons of our Warfare.” On this form, the series name “Weapons of our Warfare” would go there.

Each sermon was given a title that would help people remember what it was about. So I included a place for the title on my form. The most important part of sermon and lesson preparation is to state its purpose. As you begin preparing a sermon or lesson, define the reason behind it. Why are you going to preach it? What do you want to happen as the result of your having taught it? What do you want it to accomplish for those who hear it?

There are three broad purposes for a sermon or lesson:

  1. to inform,
  2. to persuade,
  3. to motivate.

Every message will fall somewhere in these three categories. Some sermons or lessons may include more than one, but each will include at least one. Your statement of purpose should read something like this: “I want to motivate each person in my congregation to witness to at least two people this next week.”

Preaching a sermon or teaching a lesson without a stated purpose is like firing a gun without a target. It makes a lot of noise and gets attention, but it captures no game. The sermons of the Bible show purpose. So do its books and letters. Read John 20:30-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

If the most important part of sermon and lesson preparation is a stated purpose, the most important parts of preaching and teaching are the introduction and conclusion. Use an introduction that gets the people’s attention, sets the mood for the message, and makes them want to hear more. Create a conclusion that sums up your purpose, provides an action step, and brings your thoughts to a crisp end. List several ways to introduce and conclude your message on the sermon plan.