Preparing Your Sermon for Preaching – Editing and Polishing

Before you are ready to preach a sermon, you should edit and polish your sermon. One of the few articles that address sermon polishing is Henry Mitchell’s. He has written a in the John McClure edited book Best Advice for Preaching. I generally speak of editing and polishing a sermon in terms of 3 edits. You might look at each of these edits as a different dimension of a comprehensive edit of the sermon manuscript.

Theological Edit

First one should do a theological edit. Here we make sure that what we are saying about God is what we wish to say about God.

Rhetorical Edit

Second we should do a rhetorical edit. The glory of the African American pulpit is its great oratory. Here we should explicitly attempt to speak poetically. Remember that you are writing for the ear and not the eye. Look at your images. Can you speak of them more poetically? Can you use a better image that is more vibrant? As noted above J. Alfred Smith’s work can be helpful here.

Grammatical Edit

Finally we need a grammatical edit. When completing the other edits try not to allow spelling or grammar to deter you. But on this edit you want to ruthlessly eliminate the grammatical and spelling errors that have entered into your sermon.



Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in blog, Preaching, Sermon Editing

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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