The Art and Craft of Telling the Christian Story

The Art and Craft of Shaping a Sermon

by Preaching Today
Tags: Art, Craft, feedback, lay preachers, planning, preaching, Preaching, sermons, worship

This collection The Art and Craft of Telling the Christian Story consists of three pages. The collection can be used by any groups and individuals who want to teach professional development for lay preachers and worship leaders.  Use in conjunction with Creativity and Imagination in Ministry and  Creative Spaces>Resources.

Sermon Collections for the Art of Preaching

If you want sermon resourcing, any and all are welcome to browse, read, comment, draw upon these sermons for personal use. They are all in the Creative Commons. Please acknowledge the source if you use them. Sermon collections by

David Bell

Philip Garside

Rosalie Sugrue

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Tags: Art, Craft, Preaching

Video1: First Things First

A planning guide for worship leaders and preachers


  1. Understand the makeup of the congregation. Who are you communicating with? 
  2. Consider the age range, cultures, gender balance, 
  3. socio-economic groups, special needs. Do you have a target group in mind?
  4. Understand the variety of needs, why they have come. Some will be seeking help, some will be keen to learn, others are with you because of habit or expectation, others will want to give, etc.
  5. What will the service of worship and the sermon in particular offer them? Will it excite, motivate, meet expectations, reassure, provide new information, increase faith?


PDF to accompany video 1



Mike Stachurski
25 May 2016, 9:38 PM

I was all ready to preach on "the Trinity as a community for us to be an image of" last Sunday. Sweated a bit in getting it all ready - finished writing at 4 pm on Sunday - with the service starting at 7.30 pm.

I usually preach from my laptop. So - just after the service started, I powered up the laptop. As I use an external keyboard at home - I didn't notice that a key critical to entering my password was not working. Five or so minutes ahead of preaching - and I had a blank screen - no sermon at all!

I got up - and told the congregation what had (or rather, hadn't) happened. But once I'd remembered the first sentence I'd written - I was away... I sat down after nine minutes or so. Strangely, I'd felt no "nerves" at all throughout...

On looking at the sermon later, and remembering what I'd actually said at the lectern - I think I largely left the more stilted stuff out. I didn't go hugely into philosophy or history, and there was a wee bit of language work in comparing and contrasting the gender of the Spirit in the biblical witness, and in that of Jerome. I actually came up, I think, with a much better ending to the sermon extemporaneously than I did within the written version.

Many said that the sermon sounded and flowed better done this way than it does with my having a script (and even in my ad-libbing extensively, as I usually do). It may be that a set of bullet-points on a piece of paper in front of me may be a more natural (and more portable!) way to preach in the future.

One thing's for sure - I learned a lesson or two that night.

David Bell
25 May 2016, 9:54 PM

Hi Mike...that's exactly the kind of story I love to hear. Your experience like Rosalie's is that we can get entrapped by technology of any sort in the preaching event. But the worship leader has a different art and craft from the preacher, even though s/he may be one and the same. And technology does assist better worship especially in small congregations. Next time I lead worship I will use Halvard Lund's video as the main prayer/reflection. And add comment to his YouTube channel.

Meantime, in the next newsletter I will highlight your massive history project. 

Lavinia Elder
25 May 2016, 10:08 PM

Kia ora Rosalie, Your preaching satchel sounds like a wonderful kete of practical and spiritual toanga which can be retrieved with endless flexibility as the need arrives. And yes I agree that the youth must be authentically included. In our church I take our small youth group out during the sermon for some hands on creative activities and discussion. It is also a chance for their voice and ideas to be heard by the ‘church’. At present they are leading (literally) our Fresh Expressions ministry! However, when I am preaching I genuinely try to include youth orientated opportunities, often throughout the service. This of course takes a lot more creative thinking and organisation but is something our whole congregation delights in and appreciates. Last year’s ANZAC related service springs to mind and I will share this through my Kiwiconnexion pages very soon.  Shalom, Lavinia

25 May 2016, 11:13 PM

Oh Dear, I really haven't got the hang of this 'replying on line' thing but I want to acknowledge the comments of David, Lavina and Mike. Thanks for your responses. I do like Mike's story - hearty congratulations. I'm not sure that I would be so game as to ad-lib a sermon (I do ad-lib children's talks but this is easy for me as an ex-primary school teacher, because I have previously written my lesson plan) but I think I'd take the coward's way out with the sermon and resort to the spare I carry in my satchel. Lavina, it is lovely that you care for the kids in a special way. Do your young people return to the service to show and share with the congregation what they have been doing? I think this is important for bonding the church family.