The Sermon Prep Breakthrough Moment

I may be totally alone in this, but my guess is that there are other pastors out there that look for this moment each week.

It’s what I call the sermon prep breakthrough moment.

It’s that moment when everything begins to click. It’s the moment where the main idea of the passage aligns with the main idea of the sermon. It’s the moment where the supporting points align with the main idea of the sermon. It’s the moment where a key illustration comes to mind. It’s the moment where a big call to action begins to take place. It’s that moment where my heart is stirred personally.

Everything seems downhill in my sermon prep after I reach this breakthrough moment. For me personally, it takes a lot of work to get to this moment. My best guess is that about 2/3 of my time in sermon prep is working to get to this breakthrough moment, even though I write my sermon almost entirely in the final 1/3 of my sermon prep.

So, how do I arrive at this breakthrough moment?

  1. Pray. Sermon prep has to start here. You can’t prepare a sermon without complete dependence on the Holy Spirit.
  2. Read the passage over and over again. I love to print out the passage on a single sheet of paper. I read it over and over until it seeps deep into my heart.
  3. Study and research. There are many smart people who have either studied or researched so much of the Bible. I know I don’t know it all, so I love to learn from others.
  4. Spend time alone with God meditating over the passage. I love to go on a run with the idea of simply hearing from God about my sermon. My wife will often ask when I return from my run, “What did God tell you while you were running?” I love spending time alone with God while reflecting on the sermon passage.
  5. Write down as much as possible. That single sheet of paper that I mentioned above is where I write everything down. I always have it close by throughout my week because I never know when another piece of the sermon might come to mind.
  6. Pray some more. Just because you pray first doesn’t mean you don’t pray again. Pray some more.

What about you?

Am I alone in this breakthrough moment? For those who prepare sermons, is this something you see each week? If so, how do you get to this breakthrough moment?

This article was originally published at on January 21, 2021. Jess Rainer is the co-founder of Rainer Publishing. As co-author of “The Millennials”, Jess provides insights into the next generation of leaders.