Somebody has likened (with all the necessary caveats and apologies) preaching to pregnancy. You know the elements of the analogy: something growing within, the building excitement, that something has to come out at a specific point in time, with the resulting post-delivery tiredness and even sometimes the post-partum blues.
Among other elements where the analogy breaks down, there is one that I’d like us to ponder today. The length of gestation. Real pregnancy has a consistency of length, preaching preparation doesn’t. It is easy to fall into a cycle of preaching preparation, from start to finish, taking only five to six days. This fits between Sundays, but it creates issues.
Is the message able to fully grow, and specifically, is it able to fully grow and work its way into your life if you’ve only been working on it for five days? “I’ve been studying this passage for the past few days. I’ve lived with it since Tuesday, and have been applying it consistently since yesterday morning. Listen to my powerful message from 24 hours of experience . . . ” We don’t say this when we preach, but sometimes we say it by our lives.
Haddon Robinson suggested using a ten-day preparation cycle. This means doing some preparatory exegetical work on the Thursday of the previous week. This give it time to stir in the heart and mind before launching into preparation in the week before preaching.
Some preachers suggest planning a preaching calendar a year in advance, allowing for time to do initial study, ongoing research/collection of information, and personal application. Some advocate taking a week to do preliminary work on all messages to be preached as part of this process.
What do you do? How long do you take to allow the message to grow, and to make sure it has time to make a mark on your life, before you commend it to others?