Thursday, October 15, 2009

A sermon preparation dilemma

I have a sermon preparation dilemma.... and I was wondering, "Is it just me or do other preachers have a similar struggle?

It's simply this: I can never seem to finish or be satisfied with my sermon preparation!!

Take this coming Sunday's sermon as a very typical example. After many months of long term preparation (fellow preachers will know what I mean), I started writing / typing out my sermon early last week and after a number of drafts, I finished my sermon and printed it out. Oh joy! It felt good to be ahead of schedule (at least in the sermon department) especially since there is so many other things to do and other sermons and Bible studies to prepare and other ministry matters crying out for attention!

But early this week as I reviewed my sermon (a good habit I think or is it?) to prepare my power point outline, I felt the need to do a major revision (trimming down the length among other things). So I spent most of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning it last whittling down the contents but also adding in new material, then taking out etc. "Finally satisfied", I saved the ppt and reprinted the sermon and placed it into my preaching folder.

But this morning as I copied the ppt into my thumb drive (to transfer it tonight into the church PC for projection), I had to review the outline again! And the next thing I know, I am reworking the sermon yet again for 3 more hours! "God, is there something wrong with me?!?" (And may I add that I use the term "God" in the last sentence in a reverent way!)

Now I am afraid to read my sermon again until Sunday morning lest I get distracted and rework the sermon yet again! And I have noticed too from past experience that even when I read my sermon manuscript on Sunday mornings, I will end up jotting down all kinds of last minute notations and revision notes on it before I go up to preach.
And yeah, I have this habit of going through my sermon manuscript on Saturday nights before I sleep and ... yup, same thing happens ...

And of course even when I am preaching, I will at at least one stage in my sermon change something at the last minute (almost in mid speech!). Why is this?!?

Any comments and insights?


  1. well, htere is no good writing, only good re-writing. :) uhm, maybe it's because you are a perfectionist?? :):)

    i think all of us want to find ways to write faster . . . if you do figure it out, let me know!

  2. I think you are partially right ... perfectionist tendencies *sigh* which can never be achieved *heavier sigh* :-(

  3. i've been wondering if there are other reasons involved too--something to do with the writing process itself, which is precisely your original question.

    well, i have to constantly revise my work partly because that's what i need to do to improve the actual phrasing of the ideas. but i revise mostly because my ideas change as i read and write. that could be what you're doing too. so don't feel bad. :) we can't control how our thoughts are produced.

  4. Z. I think you hit "the nail on the head". I always have too much material for any one sermon and new ideas keep coming every time I read ...

    Guess the "solution" is to try harder to be more disciplined.

  5. perhaps you should prepare up to a point when you are satisfied and then leave it to the Lord to anoint you when you preach. A sermon is only completed when it is preached and even then it is just the beginning.

  6. Doc

    Thanks. Am trying to do just that. This week I am preaching on "Keeping the Sabbath holy" and I need my own message ... i.e. trusting God to complete my work. I can only do so much :-)