I never know when my sermon is ready for preaching. I think I exegete the scripture adequately and spend a lot of time in sermon construction, but it seems as though there is always something to tweak. Can you tell me how to know when I am finished preparing my sermon?
There are a few things that you should consider. First, you will always find something that you want to “tweak” in your sermon. I don’t care if you spend 8 hours or 108 hours in preparation, there will always be something to change in your sermon. Even after you preach your sermon, you will find things to improve. Take notes and then alter the sermon for the next time you present that sermon. As one of my homiletics professors used to say, “If a sermon is worth preaching once, it is worth preaching more than once.” So the first point is to recognize that because there is always something that you could “tweak” you will never be fully prepared if “fully prepared” means that the sermon is beyond alteration. In fact, if your sermon is beyond alteration, then that is a problem as we shall soon see in our next point.
Another point I would emphasize is that while you may prepare, the situation of the preaching event may change. There may be a national tragedy the night before. A well respected mother of the church may die. In short, the congregation may have on its mind something entirely different than you thought they would have when you prepared the sermon. Thus you must always be open to the moving of the Spirit to use your preparation in a different way than you might have originally considered.
Finally, our understanding changes daily. You will look at a text one day and then look at the same text next week and see something different. Your perspectives change. Your questions change. Your abilities change. Your understanding of the Biblical record changes. Even your understanding of the people you will address changes. All of these things will cause us to see a different nuances when we go to the text. Again, use these things. Allow the Spirit to use this advancing in knowledge and understanding to present a better sermon.
This is not to say that you should not do your due diligence in preparing your sermons. After having said all that, I would encourage you to either create or follow a comprehensive sermon construction methodology. My 7 steps is an example, but there are certainly many other approaches. Choose or create a comprehensive methodology, follow it. After you have done that go head on and preach through any of your jitters. If you have no reservations or butterflies, then I would think you don’t fully grasp the challenge of preaching God’s Word in this world at this time. Just don’t allow the fear mess up the Word that you are to present.