What would worship be like if your congregation had prepared for the sermon? How would the spiritual growth of your congregation mature if you could encourage devotional time with a sermon that addressed the specific needs of the congregation while being relevant to a weekly devotional schedule? On top of that, how would you like to have about 7 sermon ideas to select from each week? Does this sound too good to be true? Think you don’t have the time? Well think again.

The Church’s Devotions

Take twenty to thirty minutes a day for your own devotions. There are many good “through the bible in year” reading schedules. The first step to accomplishing this is by printing out for your congregation either one of these schedules, or by printing out your own study and devotional schedule. If you are like me, sometimes you have difficulty in thinking about what a devotional time looks like. I have tried many different ways, and nothing seems to fit me very well. Sometimes we make devotional time too difficult, other times we neglect devotional time all together.

Any devotional model will work, but if you have had trouble with this in the past, try something different. There is a great method described and practiced by Wayne Cordiero and the New Hope Christian Fellowship Oahu. When I heard him speak on this subject, it made what was my struggle a joy. If you have ever struggled with a devotional or journaling time, this just might be what works for you too.

SOAP devotional model

SOAP is simply a model that uses the following approach:

Scripture

Observation

Application

Prayer

Scripture) As you read, what verse(s) as you read jumps out to you, what verses touch your heart? As you begin by contacting God’s word, let it first begin to contact your heart. Still, this is for you, not your congregation. The sermon isn’t here, nor should it be.

Observations) restate what the passage says. Make notes from your experience. As you look and think about it, what does it say? What is God saying to you as a man, a pastor, a husband or father? When you hear it, feel it, or experience it, write it down.

Application) How do you put this into practice? It may be a list from the scripture. The simple question to ask is what do I need to do to get this work in my life? Is there instruction or correction that is piercing your heart? Is there encouragement or edification that God has in store just for you? As it comes, again just simply jot it down.

Prayer) Write down a short prayer. It can be specific, or general – but understand that you are now taking this thought internally as well as heavenly.

As you are reading through your daily schedule, you can make notes. Simple and concise work best. Buy a notebook, use your PDA, or even note cards, but you have to engage here with God’s word. When your done making your notes – give it a title. Something you can see quickly that is quick summary of the topic.

Here’s is a sample of what mine looks like from Galatians 6:

Galatians 6:7-10 Planting a life for God

S) "Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others — ignoring God! — 8harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. 9So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. 10Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith." (The Message)