Prioritizing Time For Fresh Preaching

Prioritizing Time For Fresh Preaching

In the last post I began exploring how to keep your preaching fresh.  We continue that theme here by considering how to go about prioritizing time for fresh preaching for yourself and your people.

Create a Routine That Prioritizes Time for Fresh Preaching

This certainly is a challenge, at least it was for me.  I tried to take Mondays off.  This required some discipline, because my study was in my home.  The temptation was strong to deal with stuff left over after the previous week.

After a day of recuperating and spending time with my young family, I would enter the study on Tuesday, ready to start preparing.  This took discipline as well.  After a tiring weekend, it would have been easy to start with hospital or family visiting.  But the schedule that I had committed to required me to do the initial reading for the upcoming sermon on Sunday morning.  So, from 8:00 am to about noon, I would read and think and pray about the message. (Note: this is another key to fresh preaching, to pray for God to guide your preparation.)

To make a long story short, each morning, some time in my new schedule involved sermon preparation.  It became my priority, along with prayer.

The good thing about a routine, was that it allowed time to think and explore how best to present the message that began to reverberate in my soul.  Once I had the basics of the message down by reading and reflecting, I could think about how best to present it, what illustrations to use, etc.

So, question 1: What’s your routine, and what should it be?  How will you go about prioritizing time for fresh preaching in your pulpit ministry?

Do Some Longer-Range Planning for Fresh Preaching

Most of the literature that I’ve read suggests making a year-long sermon calendar.  That would be great!  There are some themes that are going to come up in your year: Advent, Lent, Christmas, New Years’, Easter, maybe Labor Day or Memorial Day.  Those who suggest the annual sermon plan suggest going away for a couple of days to pray, think and plan for the year.

I couldn’t do this well, so I decided to focus on each three-month period of the year.  I did set aside time to make a schedule.   My schedule came from things I had read and wanted to preach on, or themes that I had read from other preachers that I could borrow for a series.  Or there were messages that I thought the church I was serving needed to hear.  In this way, I was prioritizing time for fresh preaching in my ministry.

Knowing what you are going to preach on in a few weeks or even a month will allow you to collect possible illustrations through the work you are doing and the life that you are living, not just from books.

A word about plagiarism.  Here’s the definition 

  1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author: It is said that he plagiarized Thoreau’s plagiarism of a line written by Montaigne.

It is tempting, when you find a message you really like, to just use it.  I remember listening to a person preach a really good message.  As he was preaching, however, I realized that the phrases and illustrations he used sounded familiar.  When I got home, I got on the computer and began a search.  I found that message in, one of my own sources for sermon preparation.  The person I was listening to had used that sermon, almost word for word, but had never acknowledged the person who created it.  This is plagiarism.  It is wrong morally, and it is wrong legally.  So, if you find some really good stuff, make sure you acknowledge from whom you got the idea.

Here is another person’s step by step plan for making a sermon schedule.