In churches around the world, attendance peaks on Easter Sunday. And while that’s exciting and encouraging, it also means many pastors feel added pressure to preach one of their best sermons ever.
As you head into the Easter season, here are five practical (and hopefully, encouraging) tips to help you prepare your Easter message.
#1 – Find one angle.
There are so many different ways you can approach an Easter sermon.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have different perspectives on the resurrection. The Last Supper is rich with meaning. What did doubting Thomas feel? Pontius Pilate is an interesting character.
There are the Old Testament prophecies, the symbolism of baptism, and the truth of Galatians 2:20. All of these passages and stories are about the resurrection, but each of them adds a different dimension.
You don’t have to cover every angle in your Easter message. That’s impossible. But as you study and pray for what God wants to say to His church on Easter, settle on one.
#2 – Keep it simple.
I always thought Easter messages were some of the toughest to prepare, because even though everyone knew what I was going to say, I wanted to share an original and creative thought.
So in the weeks leading up to Easter, I’d look for some new angle and try some creative approach.
But as the day got closer, things would get simpler. The fluff would get cut and the message would end up where it should have started…the resurrection of Jesus.
As you prepare your Easter sermon, don’t worry about preaching the most amazing message ever. Don’t try to dazzle people with your understanding the Old Testament or first century legal practices. You’re not trying to win a preaching award; you’re trying to proclaim Jesus and offer hope.
Preach the simple truth of the resurrection – the single most important event in human history. That’s enough.
#3 – Keep it real.
As you’re working through a text and crafting your message, don’t forget the people who will hear this message. With any message, it’s easy to dive deep in the Bible but forget about the audience.
You’re not just preaching the Bible…you’re preaching the Bible to people. Mark Pierce says it well in this post.
I think of the man with stage 4 cancer, the woman struggling to breathe through her worsening lung disease, the single mom with questioning teenagers, the couple married this year without any family support, the daughter who just buried her beloved dad, and the moms who gave birth since last Easter. No other pastor, no other sermon will reach these loved children of God in quite the same way!
The Easter message is a great opportunity to offer hope to hurting people. Think about those people as you are writing your sermon.
#4 – Finish it early.
A few years ago, I helped create a coaching program called Preaching Rocket. Our goal there was to help pastors and preachers preach better sermons. We knew one of the key ways pastors could accomplish this was to finish their sermons earlier, even if it was just a few days.
When you finish your message earlier, you give the Holy Spirit more time to work on you. You get to preach the message to yourself. You get to internalize before you sermonize.
And this is particularly important on a week like Easter. If you can take time to reflect on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, without the crunch of having to finish the most important sermon of the year, you’ll preach a better message on Resurrection Sunday.
#5 – Get feedback in advance.
Evaluation after the fact can be useful. In fact, we recommend pastors regularly use this sermon evaluation form to solicit honest evaluation from listeners.
But feedback before you preach the sermon, particularly a sermon as important as Easter, can be even more helpful.
On Tuesday or Wednesday before Easter, send your outline or your notes to five people in the congregation and ask for feedback. Ask if the stories and illustrations really connect? Ask if the message looks encouraging to outsiders as well as insiders. Ask of men and women, young and old, hear a message of hope.
You don’t have to wait until after Sunday is over to get feedback on your message. Seek it out in advance when you actually have time to make changes.
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