Scott Wenig: How I Preach

July 20th, 2015| Topic: aBeLOG, How I Preach | 4

Scott Wenig: How I Preach

Scott Wenig: And this is How I Preach

[Scott, like several of those portrayed in this series, is a fellow Evangelical Homiletics Society (EHS) member, and a fellow teacher of preaching (at Denver Seminary). Thoughtful scholar on all matters homiletical and pastoral, he brings to the pulpit a wealth of experience in leading churches. He has been at Denver for over two decades, and including this stint has been pastoring both in full-time and interim capacities for the best part of thirty years. To Scott, therefore, we need to pay attention. Here’s the man ….]

Scott A. Wenig
Professor of Applied Theology, Haddon W. Robinson Chair of Biblical Preaching
Denver Seminary, Denver, Colorado

Current gig (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:
Teaching preaching at Denver Seminary for twenty years.
I just finished serving as an interim pastor for the past year at small church in Lakewood, Colorado.
Thirteen weeks at a large men’s bible study in a very large church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Lead Teaching Pastor at Aspen Grove Community Church in Littleton, Colorado which I helped to start (2004–2009).
Interim at various churches in the metro Denver area.

Who or what made you want to preach:
My College pastor was an excellent teacher and a very creative pulpiteer. He’s the one who first inspired me to try my hand at this “oh-so-blessed” calling.

Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?
Haddon Robinson, who served as President of Denver Seminary when I was a student there.
He eventually hired me to serve in an adjunct capacity in homiletics way back when.

Most used English Bible version:
The New International Version.
But I still really like the New American Standard Bible because it’s so true to the original languages.

Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy)?
I don’t use much of either apart from different word studies and phrases that I think require some more in-depth analysis. My own opinion, after 30-plus years of preaching, is that knowing the specific genre of Scripture and how to both read and interpret it is of much greater importance. In fact, in my preaching classes at Denver Seminary this is one of the very first things I emphasize and require students to do some work in.

Current devices you use for preaching prep?
None. I’m a Bible and hardcopy and book guy who works on the text and then loves reading the commentaries.

What tools/aids for sermon prep can’t you live without?
In addition to commentaries, I really like to scan for different sermons and illustrations.
I find these to be very stimulating and helpful in terms of how people preach, different ideas they communicate and the illustrations they use.

One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:

One word that best describes how you preach:
I would say “energetic.”
My wife, who is my best critic, says “fast.”

What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?
My computer, my Bible, and usually some commentaries lying around.
Often some other books that I’m using to find illustrations or that deal with the theme/themes I’m working on for this sermon.

Illustrations: Where do you go for them and how do you store them?
I love illustrations and actively look for them in the newspaper (USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times), television,, and my own observations and experiences of life.
Donald Gray Barnhouse once said, “All of life illustrates Bible doctrine.” He was right!

Tell us your sermon-prep routine.
I try to work at least 5–6 days ahead. For me, pressure is a killer of creativity and good thinking.
I try to work on my text and then use some commentaries on Day 1.
Day 2, I really focus on forming the Preaching Idea from the Exegetical Idea I’ve derived from the text.
Day 3, I focus on sermon structure.
Days 4 and 5, I work on finding illustrations and putting together the manuscript, including the introduction and conclusion.
I do my very best to be done by noon on Friday.
I then spend Saturday morning reviewing the manuscript and making any final changes.
I get up early on Sunday, head to Starbucks for my coffee and a final review.

Average numbers of prep hours per sermon?
15–18 hours.

What’s your best time-saving trick?
If I can get a head start on the exegesis and give myself some time to think and pray, the rest of the prep work usually goes much faster.

What time of the day are you most effective?
Mornings from 7:00 to 11:30.

Any props used regularly in sermons? PowerPoint? Handout?
I don’t use handouts.
Occasionally I use PowerPoint for Scripture as long as I am in control of it (otherwise I don’t use it anymore).
I like to use props and probably need to do this more since they seem to help the audience visualize what I’m trying to communicate.

No notes/some notes/extensive notes (manuscript)?
My first seventeen years I went with no notes and then switched back and forth to a manuscript.
I’ve found that if you write like you speak and speak like you write then notes or a manuscript can help you.
Otherwise, they are a bother and a distraction.
So, generally, I now use a manuscript, but move away from it quite a bit during the sermon.

Who critiques your sermons, beside yourself?
My wife is an excellent sermon evaluator and critic. She grew up in Andy Stanley’s youth group and was on staff at a large Presbyterian church with strong teaching so she knows what communicates and what doesn’t.
On occasion, I’ll ask a friend to give me some feedback which, though painful, is always helpful.

How has your preaching improved over time?
I think I’ve learned to pause, go slow, look people in the eye and perhaps of greatest importance, “talk to them about them and their problems, concerns, and issues from the text.”
I’ve also discovered that when I preach consistently, I’m much better than doing occasional one-off sermons as a guest preacher.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I don’t think I’m better than anyone else at anything, except perhaps drinking Starbucks coffee and reading The Wall Street Journal (which, by the way, is an ongoing education unto itself!).

What do you listen to while you work?
If I’m doing something that doesn’t require enormous mental concentration I like to listen to classical music (Mozart or Bach).
During sermon prep I like it to be either quiet, or to be in Starbucks where I can occasionally pause, look around and ask, “How would they hear this?”

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m an extrovert (I draw energy from people) with a well-developed introvert side (I grew up in a family of introverts).

What are you currently reading?
Heretics and Heroes, Thomas Cahill
The Screwtape Letters, C.S .Lewis
Paul and the Faithfulness of God, N.T. Wright
From Every Tribe and Nation: a Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story, Mark Noll

What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?
That grades are irrelevant, and that education and character are everything.

Exercise routine? Sleep routine?
I don’t sleep well and this is an ongoing thorn in the flesh as it causes some other health issues.
I try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, be it on the exercise bike, treadmill, or walking around our neighborhood.

Spiritual disciplines?
I’ve always enjoyed reading my Bible and praying so these are fairly easy for me to practice on a consistent basis.
I’m also something of a “church-rat” (like a gym rat who loves basketball) so church is very important, enjoyable and refreshing to me.
I don’t fast as much as I used to for health reasons and I don’t like to journal.

Favorite food?
Good Mexican Food always followed by ice cream!

What you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?
Lunch with a friend, student or colleague, read, watch TV, go for a walk, watch good movies, dinner with my wife.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Love God and love people because in the end that’s all that matters.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ________ answer these same questions.
David Daniels, Pastor of Pantego Bible Church, Fort Worth, Texas.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to share!

[For the archives of this series, How I Preach, see here.]


  1. Alvin Low August 10, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Having served together with Dr. Wenig at Denver Seminary for many years as an adjunct professor for preaching, I am thankful for his passion for God’s Word, and his impact on the lives of so many students through his life and lips.

  2. David Daniels July 20, 2015 at 8:51 am

    So grateful for Scott’s investment in me at Denver Seminary 25 years ago! He taught me the discipline of crafting words.


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