G. Campbell Morgan’s Method of Sermon Preparation

Notes from “The Seminary Review” (The Cincinnati Bible Seminary), Volume VII – Number 1, Fall, 1960 by Arthur F. Katt.

“Failure to convince comes from unfamiliarity with one’s subject.  One must be so familiar with an author as to see life from that author’s viewpoint.  Many fail because they pick lesser themes and inadequately prepare; infinity cannot be magnified by mediocrity.” – Dr. Horace M. Taylor, a student of G. Campbell Morgan

  1. Pray for help from God before you begin.
  2. Select a text to preach.
  3. Read the entire book in which the text is found 40-50 times from a variety of faithful translations.
  4. Sketch your own original outline of the general movements of the book without consulting commentaries.
  5. Keep your text in its proper context.  “A text without a context is a pretext” (attributed to Dr. John A. Hutton).  “Nothing is more to be deprecated than the habit of formulating systems upon disjointed Scripture phrases apart from their connection with the context” (Morgan, The Spirit of God).

Telescopic/Microscopic Process

  • Survey by reading the book and gathering an overall impression.
  • Condense the book with a thoughtful outline.
  • Expand your outline into an analysis of the book.
  • Dissect your work for the knowledge you need to adjust your final outline.

Once this process was carried out, Morgan went to the commentaries and other scholarly aids.  He said, “To turn to commentaries first is to create a second-hand mentality.”  Morgan read critics of the Scripture in order to strengthen his argumentation.

Preparing the Sermon Manuscript

  1. He rarely wrote out a verbatim manuscript, but he did write a very full outline.  This outline was termed a brief.  The brief was wrapped by another sheet of paper folded in half.  That half sheet contained the date the sermon was preached and where it was preached.  It also contained hymns that were suitable for the sermon.
  2. He kept his phrasing simple, clear, and brief by using alliteration, rhythm, and repetition.
  3. He used the expository method.  He read the text he would preach in its proper setting.  He stated the central message along with its application.  He concluded the message.  300 of Morgan’s sermons are preserved in The Westminster Pulpit.  Morgan preached from his most carefully prepared brief, but gave himself freedom of utterance.
  4. He underlined certain aspects of his briefs for emphasis while speaking.  He used a blue pencil and four colors of ink (black, violet, green, and red).  He underlined main divisions in black (A and B); large Roman numerals in violet; small Roman numerals in green; small letters (a and b) in red.

Preparation for Delivery

  • He practiced delivery as a younger man by preaching aloud as if the audience were before him.
  • Later, he walked in the country and preached the sermon.
  • He used hand gestures as he practiced.
  • He strengthened his vocabulary by looking for better, more descriptive ways to turn a phrase.  This occurred during these practice sessions.
  • He needed at least 30 minutes of meditation time before coming to the pulpit.  More was better.  Once before preaching at 10 am during a conference, he spent two straight hours meditating upon his text.

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