It’s hard to come up with a sermon topic. Sometimes we pick topics that are of interest to us but might not be a topic our audience will find helpful. It takes time to pray and think and evaluate your current context in order to select a subject that will be timely. It’s much easier to pick the first solid thing that pops into your mind and then convince yourself that it was the Spirit.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself before or after you have chosen a topic:
1. What can I bring to this audience or subject that is unique?
Now truth is truth and I don’t think we need to feel obligated to come up with something new every time we speak. However, you are a unique individual with a perspective and life-experiences that are especially yours. What can you give your listeners? What can you give to the topic that will be unique?
2. What do I think these people need to hear?
This takes time to determine. Ask your spouse. Ask your leaders what they think the congregation needs to hear. Ask members of your congregation what they think the need is. After you come up with a topic try to be as objective as you can and ask…
3. Why do I think they need to hear this?
Let’s say you determine that the church needs to be taught on love. Why do you think that? “Well because of this…I’m going to speak on that.” You may be misinterpreting the “this.” The “this” could be a symptom of a greater need. Or…are you choosing the topic because one individual complained to you about something they think you need to address? Not good enough.
4. What are the most important elements of this subject that I need to deal with?
Don’t feel like you’ve got to say all that can be said on your particular topic. I’ve heard speakers say, “Well there’s so much I could say about this I didn’t know what to leave out.” You’d better get good at knowing what to leave out or your people will check out. You’ve got a lifetime to teach…pace yourself.
5. If I had to reduce this message down to one sentence, what would it be?
Determine the “it” and then let that be your guiding light. What do you want them to take home with them? Keep it simple, clear, obvious.
6. Is it possible that there is a topic that could be more timely and appropriate?
One of your most effective tools for influence is your gift of teaching. Take the time to think through the topics you speak on. Use the questions I’ve suggested to help you pick topics that will be the right message at the right time for the right people.
7. And last, but certainly not least, because of prayer and waiting upon God, did you have any sense of what He wants you to preach on? Go here first and then you can start with question #1.
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