I once heard an elderly pastor say that pastors can reuse their sermons after 7 years after because people forget them after that time. I can’t do that because our church’s members have long memories. Some surprise me by quoting sermons I gave more than 10 years ago. Many of them remember my sermon illustrations for even longer than that. So I have the burden of preparing a fresh new sermon every week.
I don’t particularly enjoy preaching; it’s not one of my spiritual gifts. I would rather listen than speak. I know some preachers who can speak for 3 or 4 hours and hardly wait for the next opportunity to preach. I envy them.
Although I neither have the gift of preaching nor enjoy it, sermon preparation is not very hard for me. When I first came to Seoul Baptist, it was much more difficult. I sometimes had to prepare until 1 or 2 in the morning.
Preparation became easy when I decided to preach sermons that are useful for our congregation more than ones that impress them.
I decided that the best way to give useful sermons is to become God’s loudspeaker. He knows every need and hurt in our congregation. He is the one who is able to heal and encourage. So becoming a conduit for his encouraging word and healing power is the best way to help our congregation. I just need to become God’s loudspeaker to convey His message.
One major change I made in my sermon preparation was to spend more time in prayer and less time studying the text. Of course, I can’t neglect study, but I only need to do enough to fully understand the intentions of the original author. I decided to pay less attention to academic details and less time searching for good sermon illustrations.
I began to schedule 20-minute prayer times here and there during my sermon preparation. I pray for 20 minutes asking God to reveal what He wants to say about the sermon text. After I finish, I pray for 20 more minutes as I go through the sermon content, asking Him whether my sermon truly conveys what He wants to say. On Sundays, I come to church early and pray for another 20 minutes to ensure that what I am about to preach is according to His wishes.
Since I redefined my role as a preacher and added prayer times to my sermon preparation, more people have come to me and told me that my sermons spoke to their heart. Sales of sermon tapes also increased noticeably. As always, completely depending on God has been the solution.
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