With life getting busier and Sunday seemingly arriving every two days, when does the preacher get time to study? How long must you burn the midnight oil? Well, if you’re a full time pastor (and parent) it’s not as easy as you may first think.
From dealing with phone calls and people who just drop in as they were in the area and needed to kill a few hours, to the huge amount of administration and planning, there is a lot on a pastor’s plate. After all, you are a visionary leader! What about your own personal life; praying with your wife, spending time with the kids, cutting the grass, washing the car and doing the DIY? Time quickly flies by and, before you know it, it’s Saturday night and you have no message! Your people expect a life-changing word every time you speak. How do you keep up the standard? What must you do?
Firstly, you must understand the importance of delivering God’s Word by putting in the hours studying before you get up to the pulpit. People can tell if they are getting a sandwich or a lavish meal! (There are times for each, but as a rule of thumb, you want to give your best on Sunday. After all, the members are bringing their friends, family and work colleagues because you asked them to!)
Remember, you want to preach what God wants to say to His people. Prepare weeks in advance. If you wait until the week of your teaching/preaching you will not have the time and study hours to gather your thoughts. It takes at least 15-32 hours of preparation (including prayer, fasting, study and writing) to bring a good message — plus being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
Know where you’re going with your message and how you are going to end. Take charge of the pulpit; know what song you want at the end and who is to play for you. (Let the person know beforehand and don’t presume anything.) End on a high! Give them something worth coming back for – would you come back to listen to you next week? Clearly communicate what you require in the appeals and practise them. Listen back to your own message, play it aloud and write notes, then you will have a better idea of how well you communicated. Your best critics are your wife and kids; they will tell you what you were really like.
Go before God with fear and trembling and do not stand before His sheep with soul-ish power. Anointed preaching is far better than dry eloquence!
Above all else, remember you were called to be God’s voice to His people. So take the challenge and preach your heart out. A great preacher once said, “I simply set myself alight by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit and people come to watch me burn!”