How to Preach: Taking the Time to Thrive

Sermon Preparation Outline

In all of ministry, getting a weekly cadence down is tough, but creating a schedule and a sacred rhythm for your weekly preparation will help you create strong messages.  You will only begin to thrive if you take the time in reading, prayer and preparation to create a sermon that can engage your intended audience.

It can’t be emphasized enough… this whole process MUST BE BAPTIZED IN PRAYER!!!

Listening to Simply Youth Ministry Podcast, I took notes from Josh Griffin’s explanation on how he develops his sermons and I thought it would be good to share.  Too often I think we youth leaders get in a trap of preparing sermons too late to be effective at all.

Manuscripting your Sermon

Josh (and I) believe strongly in Manuscripting our entire sermons.  He didn’t state why he believes that, but I have some reasons that I think this is very important.

  1. You create a stronger mental and logical flow when you put it out on paper.
  2. Writing it out forces you to think through every section of your sermon, The Introduction and Conclusion as well as the main points of your message.
  3. You develop and hone your BIG IDEA!  Without this, your sermon will cut like a – on a slab of concrete!
  4. You can memorize your beginning and end.  These are the two most important sections.  Memorizing them helps you take off and land with everyone “present”
  5. You can set the right length.

Length of Message (Sermon)

Josh aims at a message length of 30 mins max (for High School).  Many of the Homiletics books and teaching I’ve received put this around 27 minutes for adults, and less for Jr. High (20-25 mins).    In his Manuscript he counts between 2000-2500 words.  These may be different for you, but keep track, see how long you have and how you preach vs how long your manuscript is.

Read through the manuscript, but you don’t need to preach from it.  Try to memorize it as best as possible.  You can make benchmarks through your sermon (scripture can help) so as you read through and do your message you know where you are going.

Memorize! The intro and conclusion.  The takeoff and landing are the two most crucial elements to you have to master.  By memorizing these you start and end on the right foot and those listening follow you with more ease.  Nothing is more annoying than a sermon that doesn’t want to end… (Stanley calls this the bus that slows down to stop, but then goes around the block again when people just want to get off).

Timeline of Creating a Sermon

6 months + out – Develop series and flow for the next 6+ months on excel sheet.

Build your series based on the needs of those in your youth group.  Build one on what they need to be hearing.  Take the time to plot out a master schedule so you don’t wind up going in circles.  Teach on your purposes and casting your vision and bring them along the journey with you!

1 month out – Meet with team and construct specific vision for series

Meet with your staff, perhaps a few select students to pick their brains about what you are going to talk about.  This is not bending the Bible’s truth to fit their life, this is making appropriate application for biblical truth to their life, so they can take it and apply it well in their own context.

Week Schedule of Creating a Sermon


Remember that Josh Preaches on Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday is his day to get the rough draft of his sermon done.  The goal is to manuscript then memorize.  Making changes as they need to be done.


Send draft to a few trusted advisors.

This helps you find points that will work, won’t work and perhaps grab a story or two that are better than what you have.


About Josh

Joshua Griffin is the High School Pastor @Saddleback Church.  He blogs at

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