I once heard John Bisagno, veteran pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church at the time, say he did not understand why many pastors require so long to prepare a message. “Give me some privacy, my Bible and a note pad and in two hours without interruptions, I have the sermon.”
That, I might say, is just one of the five hundred reasons most of us who know Dr. Bisagno have envied this gifted servant of the Lord. To put it bluntly, few of us can produce the kind of sermon we ought to be preaching in that brief a time.
In my case, the preparation time is not measured in hours, but in days or even weeks.
Here’s what I mean.
Perhaps it has something to do with limited intellect, but a sermon has to grow in my mind. Marinate as opposed to microwave, I sometimes put it. It just takes time for me to grasp the thrust of what the Lord is saying, how it pertains to the various scriptures on that subject, how it all relates to the Lord Jesus Christ and the cross, what it means to the average guy in the pew, and what we want to accomplish in the sermon.
Case in point.
Next Sunday, as I write, I’m bringing a message to a congregation about an hour from home. A group I’m a member of will be having its annual retreat in that area and a local pastor asked me to bring the morning message in his church. As I prayed for direction, eventually I decided the Lord would have me to bring a sermon from Romans 12 on the subject of “what the healthy church looks like.”
Now, I’m strongly convicted on the subject of healthy churches. In my last pastorate, we did a church health study over a couple of months and ended my nearly 14-year tenure with a reasonably healthy congregation. I taught a semester-long seminary course on the subject of healthy churches, and have taught the Epistle to the Romans a number of times.
So, it’s not like the subject was new to me. That, however, made the task more difficult for coming up with one message of 25 or so minutes in length. I have far too much information on the subject to put into one sermon.