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March 13, 2019

The 15 Minute Sermon Prep

By New Churches Team

Most pastors are spending 20 to 25 hours a week in sermon prep. That amount of time is difficult to sustain week after week without affecting other areas of your life. Using the 4-Mat adult learning theory, it is possible to reduce your initial sermon prep time to 15 minutes, allowing you to focus on other aspects of ministry and providing better balance in your life.

The Adult Brain

While you are spending all of those hours on sermon prep each week, it’s important to know that the adult mind can only retain 7-8% of the content it’s given, and that content only stays in the brain for 15 minutes or less. Usually after just 7 minutes, most of your congregation has forgotten over 95% of your sermon. Be responsible when crafting your sermons, but you may not need all of the time you usually use.

The 4-Mat adult learning theory explains the importance of switching from the left brain to the right brain to help increase memory and cognition. Right brain material is creative and can include stories, music, or anything tactile. Use these moments to help connect your congregation to the deeper content of your sermons.

There are four quadrants in the 4-Mat adult learning theory. They are:

  1. Why?
  2. What?
  3. How?
  4. If?

Each quadrant is then split into two sections – a right brain section and a left brain section. It is important to switch back and forth from right to left as you work through the quadrants so the listener can use the right brain activities to help remember more of the sermon.

A Sermon Prep Sample

Start by determining the main point of your sermon. This is what all the content in the quadrants will point to. Then begin in the first quadrant – the Why quadrant. First, you want to come up with a right brain activity to get started. Typically this is a story. Then you will move into the left brain to connect the listener to your story. Ask 2-3 questions with each one connecting them deeper personally. When you are ready to move on, craft a transition statement to move into the content of the sermon. This transition statement should be written down verbatim.

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New Churches Team

NewChurches.com wants to help you build a strong foundation by connecting you with top experts in the field of church planting and multisite ministry, and by regularly providing you with the resources, information, and community you need to thrive as you multiply the mission of Matthew 28.


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