Sometimes, ministers need to write sermons quickly especially during a week with many visitors, hospital visits, and a memorial. Vocational ministers for a new church need to write quickly. Many ministers are continuing their education in graduate studies and may need to prepare a sermon in a short amount time. The following is neither the easy way nor the lazy man’s approach. Writing a sermon in twenty minutes takes constant study by reading Scripture with an awareness for applying scripture to life.
Prepared to Write in 20 Minutes
First, sermon preparation should include constant study and prayer, so that organizing a message is quick as needed. Constant preparedness requires studying multiple subjects and reading the Scriptures every week. The preacher would be wise to focus on studies to form sermon series for 3 or 4 weeks of preaching.
Second, one should keep notes on biblical topics based on a central paragraph of Scripture (or a list of a few scriptures) for upcoming lessons. If an evangelist is preaching every weak, then he should prepare a set of sermon subjects with a balanced theology throughout the year according to a specific theme for each month. Many preachers recommend doing this to avoid preaching any message more than twice within three years, so one should set various topics over three years or more.
Third, forming a sermon template is the key to writing a sermon in 20 minutes. The speaker can form a template from an outline of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Plain and, or Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost. The preacher should try to imitate the way that Jesus and the apostles present scripture, how many scriptures, and how they illustrate and explain these passages.
Now, one can prepare a sermon in twenty minutes using a biblical template. The following is an abbreviated template:
- Observation about People / Narrative
- Intro Scripture(s)
- Conflict with Truth
- Exposition of Key Scripture(s)
- Declaration of Faith
- Concluding Scripture
- Encouragement / Invitation
Write in 20 Minutes
The minister would be wise to start in the center of the template with an exposition of the key scripture and build the message upon the scripture. An exposition can simply consist of drawing a few observations from the key scripture — a paragraph of scripture works well. The evangelist should notice biblical expositions of scripture in how Jesus addressed six passages in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5). Paul expanded on a list of scriptures in Romans 3. The writer of Hebrews made an exposition of a list of scriptures from Hebrews 1 and then another exposition from a paragraph of Jeremiah 31 in Hebrews 8–10. These biblical examples demonstrate the Christians need to draw observations from passages for contemplation and application.
In the template, the minister can help oneself by setting each non-textual point (#1, 3, 5, 7) to launch into a discussion with a statement or question. These points allow for important application, so one should choose a sentence or question that will encourage oneself to speak easily and display the usefulness of these scriptures for everyday life.
Example of a Sermon Written in 20 Minutes
Here is an example message:
- Narrative: “I showed him John 3:5 that convinced him to be baptized to enter the kingdom of God, so he became a disciple of Christ. […] In discipling, we continued to study and pray together. We became disciples who made disciples.”
- Intro Scripture: Quote Matt 12:30. We gather for Christ.
- Conflict: “Are we against Christ? Are we scattering rather than gathering?”
- Exposition: Quote Matthew 28:19–20 and give exposition:
- Making disciples is a command — the mission of the church.
- Jesus taught what it means to make disciples — go, baptize, and teach (participles in Greek).
- Baptism is essential to becoming a disciple of Christ (cf. Acts 2:38).
- Disciples are baptized believers learning to observe all that Jesus commanded (cf. Mark 16:16).
- Jesus demonstrated how to make disciples by leading a group of disciples (cf. Matt 4:19).
- Declaration: “We will never stop proclaiming the Gospel. We will never stop making disciples.”
- Concluding Scripture: Quote or read 2 Tim 2:2. Jesus’s disciples made disciples who made disciples.
- Invitation: Believe and obey the Gospel. — 1 Cor 15:1–4; Rom 6:4–5
A sermon written in 20 minutes is a sermon written from weeks, months, or even a life-time of studying God’s written Word. Quick writing of a sermon can make some of the most effective and passionate messages. When ministers are pressed, they can have prepared themselves to write multiple messages through continued study and contemplation. The minister and speaker can prepare a message in less than half an hour with a life of constant study of God’s Word. The underlying message of this guide is to encourage church leaders and speakers to continue reading and developing exposition from each section of Scripture.