Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Prepared for Preaching

Did you hear the one about the pastor who accidentally mentioned that he did all of his sermon preparation on the walk between the parsonage and the church? On the agenda for the next board meeting was a proposal to sell that parsonage and buy a new one 20 miles away.

Yeah, that's Jay Perry preachingA couple weeks ago in The Amazing Expanding Project, I wrote about short-scheduling your projects as a great way to manage time and beat procrastination. Unfortunately, the example I used was preaching. And upon further reflection, I have decided that I didn't really need to encourage pastors to spend less time on their sermons (in general).

In Thom Rainer's book Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, he points out that the first major reason for the unchurched to return or retreat is the impression they get of the pastor. And most of that impression comes during the sermon time.

The whole rest of your ministry can suck - you can quit visiting, quit evangelising, quit running effective meetings, quit planning, quit liking people - and people will still think you're a good pastor if you hit it out of the ballpark every weekend from the pulpit. (Wait, I know that pastor)

Conversely, the whole rest of your ministry can be great. But if you're not preaching well, people will think you're an idiot. (I know that pastor, too)

Obviously, you don't want either extreme. You want to be a great preacher and a faithful pastor.

But you can't be a great preacher if you don't spend enough time on it. You can't just think something up on the way to church and wing it every week.

Preaching is a sacred responsibility. It's not something that we should ever take lightly. It should weigh heavily on us. We are handling God's Word. Are we handling it faithfully? Or are we twisting it to fit our ideas and agendas? We are leading God's people. Are we leading them into His truth and will? Or are we just saying stuff that will sound impressive or not offend the saints?

Spend enough time really preparing to preach. Plan your preaching. Pray over your preaching. Read about preaching. Practice. Review your sermons. Analyze audio and video tapes. Evaluate your effectiveness. Improve. (It's a stewardship issue)

Prayerfully plan your sermonic year. (My Process)
Create compelling topical series. (Sermon Series Planning Worksheet)
Make each week's sermon Biblical, Interesting, Relevant, Balanced, and Christ-centered.
Take enough time each week to:
- Study your pericope and outline major themes and principles (early in the week)
- Find modern, relevant illustrations (early in the week)
- Decide what actions your listeners should take
- Find Jesus in the topic/text/theme
- Pray, pray, pray

1 comment:

Calvin said...

Point well made. I suspect, however, that there are perfectionistic preachers out there who are like me and we will tinker and rewrite and agonize over a sermon literally until we walk into the pulpit (if there are still people who use pulpits!). For me at least the benefit of setting some time limits is that there has to come a time when you say..."Enough already. The amount of improvement is not proportional to the time invested." So...while your corrective is correct, don't back down too much. It is still good to set limits. Shorting it is not best, but neither is spending inordinant amounts of time. Just a thought.