By Bishop Randy Barnett

                                               PREPARATION FOR THE PULPIT

What do you do to prepare to preach or teach for your next Sunday morning worship service? I am sure each of us has
our own ways of preparation, and that is OK. My dealing with this subject is not to convince you to do things my way;
but it is to offer some helpful hints that might propel your pulpit ministry to greater heights and produce more fruit for
the glory of Jesus Christ.

Students who attend Bible College or Seminary are usually required to take a course called homiletics. The purpose of
the course is to develop the student’s ability to minister from the pulpit. Most of what is studied in such a course is
good. The emphasis, however, is placed on the finished product which is the sermon. Sermon preparation, sermon
construction, sermon delivery, and sermon relevance are some of the topics covered. The course is beneficial to the
student but what it usually lacks is the emphasis of preparing the messenger rather than the message itself.


Let us consider what should happen when someone ministers from the pulpit. First of all, the need for divine guidance
cannot be overly emphasized. This is first manifested in who it is that will stand in the sacred desk to deliver the Word
of the Lord. Only God makes that decision. He positions His appointed and anointed servant there for that specific
occasion to accomplish a specific task that He set in place even before the foundations of the earth. Neither you nor I
choose to be there; Jesus has set us there on that particular day as His mouthpiece. What a tremendous thought that
is! We are commissioned by the Almighty God to play an important role in His Master Plan of the universe.

Secondly, the purpose for that proclamation must be clearly understood by the minister. Am I here to call the lost to
salvation, or to edify the saints in a particular doctrine, or to bring correction in a specific area that needs changing?
Why am I here right now? To know that is to be strong and confident and guided, it is to take the first steps towards
success in that hour. Be sure you understand clearly what God wants to do in that worship service. To fail in this
regard is to displease the Lord, waste the time of the hearers, and perhaps even distract from the plan of God for you
and them. I know from personal experience what it feels like to have “missed it.” I suggest you not go there.

Thirdly, the minister must understand how God wants to fulfill His plan for that hour. What steps do I take to get the
hearers to the final conclusion? How do I keep their attention? What is the level of biblical competency of the
congregation? How will I know when I am finished? The answer to each question is the same: Listen to the Spirit of
God within you and simply obey and follow His leading. He will guide you and direct your words and thoughts.
Remember: the success or failure of that worship service is not your responsibility, it is His. You are simply His
mouthpiece. Keep that in mind always and your stress level will never be a problem to you.

Let’s rewind time and look at the days and hours preceding the hour of ministry on Sunday morning. Besides the
normal preparations of the sanctuary and building and other physical activities there are potentially two things
happening: 1) Preparing the message, and 2) Preparing the messenger. Each of these must happen if the service is to
be fruitful. The question is this: “Which should I give the most emphasis to?” My response to this question is this:
“Correctly prepare the messenger first and the message will follow.”

The messenger who is ready spiritually for ministry is that through which God needs to deliver His message. This does
not negate the need for actual study and preparation of the message (as the Spirit guides) but it emphasizes what is of
highest priority. Some of my most profound pulpit messages have been when the Spirit of God led me into a message
for which I had made no preparations at all. My time had been spent on my face before God in intimate fellowship and
enjoying covenant relationship with Him, not in developing a three-point sermon that sounds masterful and scholarly
that impresses the saints. Real and lasting fruit is the result of such ministry. But I will tell you that this is a test of faith.
When several hundred parishioners are seated before you and expecting to hear from God, there is great pressure
on the minister to deliver a good sermon. That is when you experience the faithfulness of God and you see first-hand
how He fills your mouth with truth that perhaps you know not of.


My recommendation is always the same when I am asked about sermon preparation. I fill myself with the Word of God
on whatever subject God wants to deliver. I immerse myself in those verses and passages, studying them, meditating
on them, praying over them, speaking them to myself, and always asking the Spirit to open my eyes and heart to all that
is in them. It is out of the overflow of what is in my heart that I minister in true power. Here is a word of wisdom just for

                                        Put the Word in you and the Holy Spirit will pull it out
                                                at just the right time and in just the right way.

If you think about it, “your message” already exists before you get to that point in time. God did not wake up Saturday
morning wondering what you should preach Sunday. He has carefully and masterfully crafted together all things for the
accomplishment of His plan for the ages, and that most assuredly includes the message you are going to deliver. You
are not in the creation end of things here, He is. He creates the message and you simply deliver it. Now, once you
have begun to think like this, you begin to see why preparation of the messenger is the most important aspect of
pulpit preparation. When you are sensitive and filled with His Spirit, the flow of the message will be easy and powerful.
You will even stand back in amazement of what you proclaimed, and above all others, you will know its source.


My friend, invest time in intimacy with God. The demands of ministry (especially pastoral ministry) can easily drain you
of your time – the tyranny of the urgent. Don’t allow this to happen to you. The times you spend with God are the most
important hours you can spend. And, incidentally, it will show in the pulpit. Your success is in direct ratio to your time
with God. It will be for you as it was with the disciples; the power and wisdom of God will be manifested in you and
through you as you proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom.


Questions on Lesson #3

1) The concept emphasized in this lesson is to place priority on preparing the ___________________________ over
preparing the _________.

2) When did God prepare your next message from the pulpit?

3) You are commissioned to play an important role in the ______ _______ of the universe.

4) The success or failure of a worship service is whose responsibility?

5) What is your role in the success of any particular worship service?

6)  The messenger who is ready spiritually for ministry is what God needs to __________________________________.

7) How does faith play a role in this concept of preparing the messenger?

8) Your message already exists ________ you get to that point in time.

9) God creates the message and you simply ___________ it.

10) When you are ________ and filled with _________________, the flow of the message will be easy and powerful.

11) Invest time in _____________________ with God.