Preachers are well aware of the mounting pressure that builds throughout the week as Sunday approaches. Yes, there are many details to orchestrate for the weekend services and activities, but it all pales in comparison to the weight of sermon delivery. God’s people come to His house to hear from Him and His Word. And this burden of ministry rests squarely upon the pastor’s shoulders.
Adequate study and preparation is a process that takes many hours. That is, if you want to avoid the “Saturday Night Special.” However, there are so many responsibilities and interruptions that hit us throughout the week. And with each delay or detour in our plans the pressure kicks up a notch. In the back of our mind we always know that there is a message to prepare for, and we are not ready. But, ready or not, Sunday’s coming.
What have I found that works for me (if I just do it)? Start early. I mean, Monday morning – or Tuesday, if that is when your work week begins. Before the staff meetings, before the Wednesday message, before the mail and phone calls. Start taking notes and drafting your initial thoughts on your text. Get something down on paper. Don’t worry if the points are clear, or if it even makes sense! Just start early.
This way you have several days to allow your thoughts to gel, to read commentaries and do research, to think of illustrations. The congregation will be greatly blessed by it, your family will be blessed by a not-as-stressed husband and father, and you will be able to give your full attention to other matters at hand. I wish I could say I am consistent at this, but the Lord knows the truth. But I have experienced it enough to make it my weekly goal.
What have you found to be helpful in sermon preparation?