So, you preached a decent sermon last Sunday! Great, but guess what? You have to prepare another one for next Sunday and then another for the following Sunday and then the next Sunday, then you need another one after that, and… Yikes! It seems like it never ends. 🙂 One pastor said that every week they suffer from PMS – pre-message syndrome. For me, preaching is always a challenge, but one of the greatest privileges I could have — sharing God’s Word with others!
Here’s a fact I ran across: Every Sunday, about 55 million people listen to over 1 billion words in sermons (that’s just in the USA). Yet research shows that the biggest complaint people have is that sermons are boring and fail to impact their lives. So what can we do about our preaching?
- Know what to preach.
During my years as a lead pastor, much of my preaching was topical. The trend these days is to go verse by verse. Frankly, I really like that shift, but I do resent those who hold up expositional preaching as the only way. If you think about it, all the recorded sermons in the Bible are topical. Even Jesus taught “topically”–they are called parables. 😉 Today, if I were preaching every Sunday, I would primarily do book studies with some topical teaching.
- Plan your preaching.
While pastoring, I tried to plan my sermons out a year in advance. I would spend time in prayer and retreat, seeking what God would have me share with our congregation. If you haven’t done any long-term planning, I’d recommend starting with six months. The worship leaders will love you! No matter how great the idea is, if you have it on Thursday, there’s just not time to figure it out by Sunday! Planning ahead will allow time for creativity and give you more time to ruminate and add to the messages.
- Develop a preaching team.
People can get tired of hearing one voice. Letting other people preach actually helps your preaching. If I were to do it over again, I wouldn’t have preached so much. My last year of preaching was shared with another staff member. I only preached about 60% of the time. Our congregation loved it. It freed me up to prepare better for other sermons as well as to lead better in other areas of ministry. I would recommend someone preaching even once a month for you. Use a layperson who has a teaching gift or invite someone from the outside. The extra time and a new voice will be good for everyone!
- Set aside adequate time.
A good sermon can’t be winged. You must set aside adequate time to prepare as well as practice. I found mornings the best. I had 9-12 blocked off for study Wednesday through Friday. Also, I tried to go through my message at least once out loud before I preached it. Saying it vocally helps you see the phrases and words that need some work. It also helps with remembering the message.
BEFORE YOU GO
So, what other advice would you give about preaching? Love to hear from you!
Also, for those who want to improve their preaching, I’m hosting an online class entitled “The Art of Better Preaching” by Carey Neiuwhof. It’s free! Both pastors and laypeople are welcome to sign up! It begins on September 10, Tuesdays at 2 pm. Contact the Conference Office or check our website to sign up.