For years, being a guest speaker, I had lots of notice and used to put in closer to 40hours prep over several weeks and have a manuscript.

At my first church as a bivocational pastor doing two and then three services/teachings a week nearly 4 yrs ago, I quickly had to change.

First, a commitment to the Word. my desire is to be faithful, not flashy. I don’t want to be boring and try to consider that in communication technique but neither do I want to be entertaining. there are some things a preacher can do to help the hearer “work for understanding” alongside him

Two tips: be exegetical (explaining) and expositional (exposing the text). Practice expository-apologetics: answering the objections of those wrestling with doubt as well as sceptics by presenting God’s answers to their questions from the text. just like the apostles and prophets did. God’s sheep need the Word as their feed not your ingenuity so regularly preach thru books of the Bible verse by verse. There is a time and place for topical/doctrinal series but if it’s the main you will have sheep with an unbalanced diet over time. ..…and probably a church more focused on an experience or entertainment than an attuned ear to examine the Word and equipped to hear from the Lord beyond the preacher.

Second, don’t use scripture slides, turn in your Bible inviting hearers to turn alongside you. I was given this tip and critique by a deacon at my first pastorate as well as the admonition that I preach and read Scripture too quickly, sometimes I still do but my habits are much slower and spiritual growth is much faster among congregation when they are flipping the pages (doing the work on their end) to study Gods Word alongside me in a sermon.

schedule of preparation tips:

Yes, I’ve preached a “Saturday night special” before and occasionally a “Spirit-led” spontaneous message but doing so regularly displays a lack of discipline and laziness to study. Sometimes unavoidable with the pressures of life but for most men, not a good habit.

The last 4 yrs of more regular preaching have been greatly influenced by the book 8 Hours or Less writing faithful sermons faster. A regular message will take me 8-15 hours.….that said my current pattern looks generally like:

Monday-—nothing, not a good thinking day after Sunday

Tuesday-—jot intial thoughts down on paper when looking at text, consult a few “Bible handbooks” and review old notes if I’ve preached on/written on and still have the notes

Wednesday-—consult commentaries, perhaps Hebrew or Greek, clarify insights/“difficult texts”

Thursday-—finish outline, prepare notes for church bulletin, write handwritten notes outline on large 5×7 notecard. I only use a typewritten manuscript these days if it is a message preplanned greatly in advance or a topic/doctrinal message where I need to give great thought to how I respond/systematically walk through a large swath of scripture

Friday-—off, set aside and don’t look at it

Saturday-—review message silently reading through entire notes right before turning in. Highlight parts of notes feeling led to emphasize tomorrow

Sunday—-practice verbally parts of message before going to Sunday school and connecting with as many as possible on the front and backend of a message

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