The Effective Pastor: Never skimp on the sermon

Fifth in a series on The Effective Pastor.

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.”

“We preach Christ.”

They call you “Preacher” for a reason.

This is your primary calling.

You counsel people who are dealing with problems, but no one calls you Counselor.

You visit people in their homes and you minister to them during times of crisis, but they don’t refer to you as The Visitor.

You administrate and cast the vision for the church, but no one calls you the Administrator or the Vision-Caster.

They call you Preacher because nothing you do is as important or as critical to the work of the church as your preaching.

In preaching, you…

–touch the most people of anything you do throughout the week.

–minister to every person in the building.

–address the great issues of the world, the primary concerns of people’s lives, and the main message of Scripture.

–are given the bulk of the worship service when every eye is turned in your direction, every ear attuned to what you have to say.

–demonstrate why God called you into this work.  After you get the knack of what you are doing, you will find this the high point of every week.

–help people to live forever.

However, there are some caveats to note about your preaching ministry…

–a hundred other tasks–all of them important–will compete for sermon preparation time, all trying to crowd their way onto your calendar.

–You will sometimes have to cut short your preparation due to any number of reasons. Let those times be rare if you can help it.

–You will be tempted to preach yourself–your pet theories, your story, your opinions, and even your convictions.  Guard against this, and do it only when the Holy Spirit specifically calls for it.

–You will constantly have to rein in the ego. That overinflated sense of self gets a kick out of being on display before the crowd (and in some cases, before television audiences). It craves for recognition, for degrees, for appreciation and awards.  For that reason, you will do as the Apostle did and “die daily.”

–You will be tempted to preach old sermons which were given a good reception, rather than do the more important work of returning to the Scripture and seeking God’s word for this people for this day.

Always be on your guard against ego, laziness, and detours.

And a few suggestions on how to keep your sermons sharp, biblical, relevant, and faithful…

–Have a few sermons “in the works” all the time.  In earlier days, we would have suggested you get some file folders for each sermon. These days, with laptops, you will find other, more convenient, ways to do this.  But have several sermons in the preparation stage at all times.

–When you are traveling, driving, walking, waiting, or lying awake at night, be thinking about sermons. Have note-taking material handy. If you wake up in the middle of the night with a great thought–as you will–you must discipline yourself to get up and write it down at the moment. Otherwise, you will not remember it come morning. This is a fact.

–When you are reading the Bible or the newspaper or any book, be alert for the Holy Spirit to snag your attention on something urgent. He loves to do this, but only the alert will get it; the others will sleep right through some of the best sermon illustrations ever.

–Finally, try this once in a while.  Tell a half-dozen of the sharpest teachers in your church to be thinking of a particular passage of Scripture. Then, bring them together in one room. Tell them you plan to preach on that passage “soon” (meaning, as the Lord leads) and you want their help.  Ask them to talk about the passage, sharing their best insights as well as their questions.  Your job is to take notes while asking the occasional question.  At the end, ask them to pray for you and your preaching, and send them on their way.  A hand-written note of thanks that week will be in order.

Throughout your ministry, you must keep telling yourself…

–Preaching is not about me.

–This is “from Him and for them.”

–I cannot do this by myself, will not do it in the flesh, and must not do it to please men.  “I am not adequate for these things; my adequacy is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

–As much as I love to preach, my passion is not for preaching but for the Lord Jesus Christ.

–He must increase; I must decrease.

–I will be constantly bringing my preaching ministry to the foot of the cross, asking the Lord to teach me anew how to do it more effectively.  I will never reach the point where I feel I have arrived.

–I will pray daily for the Lord to sharpen my preaching, heighten the glory of its effect in people’s lives, and deepen the impact upon all who hear.

May the Lord be glorified in your preaching.




1 thought on “The Effective Pastor: Never skimp on the sermon

  1. Bro. Joe, I completely agree with this. Sometime ago a friend of mine who has been in the ministry quite a long time told me that the church where he was pastor told him they needed for him to resign so they could go in a different direction. Just a few days before that he had told me that he really wasn’t putting as much time into preparation as he should have done. The congregation could tell that he had not; so, they asked him to resign. Anything worth doing is worth doing well!!!

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