Local Church Ministry

When There’s Not Enough Time for Sermon Preparation

My typical Monday morning routine is to finalize my weekly blog post and send it out to the world. This is not a typical week.

Instead of sitting in my office, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Nashville. My wife and I are here for the next few days for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting. It’s an annual gathering where representatives (we’re called messengers) from churches all over the country gather to conduct necessary business and celebrate all that God is doing through our cooperative efforts.

As a result, I haven’t had the opportunity to invest the time in my weekly post that I usually do. I haven’t had the time to carefully plan, outline, or prepare. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Every pastor knows this feeling. Sometimes, life happens. Emergencies happen. Ministry happens. Things don’t go as planned. As a result, Saturday night arrives, and the Sunday morning sermon is still floating around in his mind, but none of it is on paper.

For my bivocational pastor brothers, this is a regular occurrence. Between their work, family, and other ministry responsibilities, there simply is not enough time to invest in hours of sermon preparation every week. While they may desire more prep time, their schedule and energy levels simply do not allow them to do so.

Still, there’s often a sense of low-level guilt that they haven’t done enough. Some pastors jokingly use terms such as “Saturday Night Special” or “Half-Baked Sermon” to describe sermons that have not been fully developed. For the bivocational pastor, Saturday night may be the only time he has to work on his sermon during the whole week. He would love to have more prep time, but his context does not afford that luxury.

To every pastor who has experienced the anxiety associated with preaching a sermon that has not been fully developed, I feel you. I understand. And God does too. He knows that life happens. He knows that you don’t have unlimited time to prepare your message. While He is under no obligation to bless laziness, He knows that’s not the case for most pastors. 

Whenever you experience a week when your sermon is not fully developed, trust that the Lord can still use your message to edify your flock. Perhaps when you are weak, God will show you that He is strong. While you should take steps to ensure that Saturday Night Specials don’t become a habit, God can still use the occasional underdeveloped sermon for His glory in spectacular ways.

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

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