Monday, May 9, 2011

Question of the week: What are some tricks you have to find some extra time?

As is evidenced by the lack of posts last week, life caught up with me. School work combined with some extra tasks at work meant little time for the blog. That's alright, I doubt the world suffered very much for that. One thing that can suffer when extra work piles on is sermon preparation. Time spent in the study is time almost no one sees and it is tempting at times for the preacher to cut corners there by not doing enough exegetical work or not sitting with the text long enough to find a fresh word from God. What we usually end up with on those weeks is something that isn't very thought out or something rehashed that we've done before. In other words, not our best.

While we can't always predict when extra work will pile on - like when a funeral occurs. However, we do sometimes know when busy weeks are headed our way. Family vacations, conferences, etc. - these things show up on our calendar months ahead of time, usually. We can, plan our sermons in such a way as to take such heavy weeks into consideration.

One thing I will often do, if I know I have a week coming up that will prevent a lot of study time is plan to preach from a text for two or more weeks in row. I'm a one idea per sermon kind of preacher, but most texts, especially in the epistles have more than one idea in them. As a result, if I'm willing to do some very heavy lifting exegetically that first week on the whole passage, then I will be able to greatly reduce the amount of exegetical work I'll need to do over the next couple of weeks. I spend about 2/5 of my sermon preparation on exegetical work (2/5 on writing, 1/5 on delivery), so getting this part of my preparation finished ahead of time reduces the amount of time I'm spending on a sermon by 40%. That can be very helpful on a week that I know is going to be busy.

An example might be a sermon series that I did out of Hebrews 13. By exegeting the whole chapter in the first week of sermon preparation, I was able to minimize that portion of sermon work for the following three weeks - one of which I was at a conference limiting my ability to prepare.

Hebrews 13:1-2 Keep on Loving . . . the StrangerHebrews 13:1, 3 Keep on Loving . . . the PersecutedHebrews 13:1, 4 Keep on Loving . . . your SpouseHebrews 13:1, 7-8 Keep on Loving . . . Those who Taught you the Faith

To do this requires some advanced planning, but it can really help with the work load on weeks we know will be busy ones.

What are some things you do to help balance the responsibility of faithful preparation with all the other duties that a pastor faces?

1 comment:

  1. Taylor,
    One of the things I usually do is plan out at least six weeks of sermons, if not a little further. I live and die by series. Sometimes I do chapters, books, and occasionally topical issues. I may not have six weeks of sermons written, but I at least have a road map of where I am headed that way if something comes up I at least know where I am headed.