Here are some habits I’ve gotten into that really help me with being prepared come Easter Sunday.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to write the Easter sermon. The closer you get to Easter the more the pressure builds. Some people say they work best under pressure but whether you do or don’t, you simply will not have the time to implement creative ideas the longer you wait to write your Easter sermon. Nor will you have the time to commit the message (by and large) to memory if you wait until the Saturday before Easter to write it. By preparing in advance you give yourself some time to implement the ideas the Holy Spirit places on your heart and you give yourself time to commit the sermon to memory. I wrote my first draft of my Easter sermon on March 28th. I then preached it to my staff on April 6th and got their feedback. As a result I don’t feel a lot of pressure as Easter approaches. I feel prepared and it’s a good feeling.
- Share your sermon with a pastor friend. Share your sermon with your friend, then let your friend share his Easter sermon with you. This will serve two purposes: 1) You’ll begin to familiarize yourself with your sermon and 2) you’ll get great tips on how to make it better. I met last week with a pastor friend at Cracker Barrel and we shared our messages with each other. His feedback helped me improve my final point and my salvation appeal. This afternoon I spent an hour on the phone with another pastor friend in Gardner MA going through my sermon. He helped me see where I could cut (because my message is on the long side at the moment). Tomorrow I’ll meet with yet another pastor friend to go through this refining process again. Every time I go through it, it gets better.
- Listen to your sermon while you’re in the car, exercising, etc. I typed my Easter sermon up word for word, then highlighted it, then right-clicked on it and chose the option “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track.” I then added the file in iTunes to a playlist called “Easter Sermon 2017” and synced my iPhone with iTunes. I can now listen to my sermon (or any part of my sermon) while in the car or while taking a walk. This will allow me to review my sermon at least 3-4 more times than I could if I didn’t have the ability to listen to it. I’m sure PCs have a similar feature but I don’t know anything about PCs – sorry!
- Bathe your sermon in prayer. I’ve asked both the staff and New Day Church to join me in fasting and praying over Easter. I’ve given them 4-5 prayer points for Easter, one of which is to pray that God will powerfully use the Easter sermon to lead people to surrender their lives to Christ. We pray of course because the Bible teaches that prayer causes things to happen. James 4:2 puts it this way, “You have not because you ask not.” This doesn’t mean “You’ll have anyways even if you don’t ask.” In other words, the verse doesn’t mean the opposite of what it says. It says “You have not because you ask not.” That means that prayer causes things to happen that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t pray. So bathe your sermon in prayer knowing that your prayers will make a difference.
Easter is one of the most strategic times of the year to influence the world for Jesus. Doing some of these things will help you be ready to take advantage of the opportunity.