With the huge demands on church leaders and bi-vocational preachers, we have a real challenge. Too many of us are preparing to preach with the fuel gauge indicating nearly empty. We run around like headless chickens giving ourselves away in therapeutic care and meetings management and budget discussions and endless emails and emergency crises and fire fighting and political church squabbles and more emails and then when we are almost wiped out, we prepare a sermon.
But what people need is the kind of creativity, focus, passion and “word from God” that can only come from a preacher who has resisted distractions and spent time doing what most needs to be done in preparing to preach. Reading. Study. Thinking. Prayer. Time alone. Time with God.
I’m sure you are asked how long it takes to prepare a sermon now and then. What’s the answer? A specific number of hours? I suppose that technically it depends on how well the text is known, etc. But the health of the church will not depend on whether you can crank out an acceptable sermon in fifteen hours, or eight, or three. It is about time in preparation that isn’t rushed and squeezed and forced.
Somehow it is hard to imagine rushing into God’s presence, all frantic and breathless, “Lord, I need help, I need a sermon and I need it fast!” and then to have God get stressed and out of breath as we rush to pull something together. Somehow that image doesn’t seem right, does it?
God does care, and He does gladly get involved when we aren’t ignoring Him. And in a genuine emergency He is more than able to help us when we are absolutely stuck. But God doesn’t seem to live at our frantic pace. He is with us, indeed. But somehow by going to Him, we are enabled to get closer to His pace. And then, after spending time with Him, we can come back to preach. Breathless, perhaps. But for a different reason. Let’s preach a message from elsewhere.