As a professional communicator, I get the privilege of doing a lot of speaking to a ton of different groups. God has blessed me to speak in front of big groups (just finished preaching recently to 5,000 teenagers at #IYC2014 in Nashville), small groups (I do a weekly staff chapel service for our staff of 23 strong at Dare 2 Share) and medium-sized groups (anything between 23 and 5,000).
After I prepare a sermon there are 5 pre-sermon rituals I go through before it is "go time." Here are the five rituals I do before I preach:
1. Review relentlessly. Before I preach my sermon I go over the sermon outline again and again. My goal is to know the material so well that nobody notices me looking down at my notes. If I know it that well then, if my notes spontaneously combusted, I would still have a message from God I could deliver.
2. Adjust quickly. There is nothing like a pending audience to give you adrenalin to second guess lame illustrations and weak points. I always carry a pen so that I can make adjustments to my notes even minutes (at times, seconds) before I walk to take my spot behind the music stand to deliver God's message. Although I'm a stickler about preparation, exegesis and homiletics, some of my best illustrations have been last second additions.
3. Pray passionately. Before I preach I'm asking God to prepare the audience, to convict and convince the lost to be saved and the saved to be conformed to the image of Christ. Sometimes I'll do a long prayer walk to pray for the upcoming sermon and it's impact on the audience.
4. I pace like a caged animal. When I was a kid I had some friends who kept two mountain lions in a long dog pen in their backyard (where nobody could see them...and, yes, it was illegal.) I remember watching them pace back and forth and just stare at me. You could put the thought bubble above their heads. It simply read, "I would like to eat you for lunch." Call it "the eye of the tiger (or cougar)" or whatever but pacing helps me get my head in the game right before I "unleash the beast" on stage.
5. I tie my shoes. One of the last things I do before I walk to the stage to preach is to tie my shoes...even if they don't need tied. Why do I do this? It brings me to my knees. And while I'm there I ask God one last time to fill me and fuel me through his Holy Spirit. It's on my knees I yield myself fully to him to be used for the next 30 or 40 minutes to minister to that particular audience.
That's what I do before I preach. What do you do?
Greg Stier is a husband, a father, a preacher, an author, a twitchy revolutionary and a fanatic for Jesus. He's the president of Dare 2 Share Ministries that has led thousands of students to Jesus and equipped thousands more to reach their world with the gospel. He blogs at GregStier.org.
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