There I said it.
You may not agree, but you needed to hear it.
Now, before you unsubscribe or send me a scathing email about the power of the spoken word of God, hear me out.
I’m not saying that the Word of God is overrated.
I’m not saying that you’re preaching isn’t good.
I’m not saying that preaching isn’t important. It is.
I’m saying it’s overrated, and the person overrating it is probably you.
Here’s why I can say that.
I know that most of you are spending more time preparing messages each week than doing anything else. It takes up the biggest portion of your week.
I also know, that the majority of your congregation couldn’t tell you what the main point of your message was just a few days after you preached it.
That mean’s your spending the majority of your time during the week preparing a message that most people are going to forget.
That’s why your preaching is overrated.
That doesn’t mean it’s not important. I believe preaching the Word of God is the most important thing you do each week.
It’s just not the most memorable.
Which begs the question,
How much time do we really need to spend preparing a message that most people are going to forget?
My suggestion would be as long as it takes, and not a second more.
If you’re preaching once a week, I’d shoot for less than 15 hours of sermon prep time. Less than 10 would be even better.
If you’re preaching multiple messages a week, less than 10 hours per message for sure.
If you’re bi-vocational, I’d try to spend no more than 5 hours a week on message prep.
However long it normally takes you, I would seriously consider cutting some time off of it.
Because here’s what you and I both know, the amount of time we allow for something, is normally the amount of time it’s going to take us to get it done.
It’s Parkinson’s Law. Work expands to fill the time available for it’s completion.
Which means if you give yourself twenty hours to complete a message, that’s the amount of time it will take you.
So, instead, only allow yourself ten hours this week to complete the message, and see what happens.
If you’re disciplined enough to stay within the time constraint, you’ll find that you’re way more efficient because you’ve not allowed the extra time for your mind to wander, or for the sporadic responses to emails, texts, or Facebook notifications.
It really does work, and now you can find other things to do with the extra time.
Things that people will actually remember.
- Calling someone who has a loved one in the hospital.
- Inviting someone out to coffee.
- Sending a thank you card to a volunteer.
- Texting your spouse to say, “I Love You.”
- Surprising your child by showing up to eat lunch with them at school.
Things like that.
Your preaching is overrated, but the relationships you form and invest in will be the things that people remember for years down the road.
I am a husband, father, and executive pastor of a small-town church that went big. I have a passion for helping pastors grow themselves and the churches they serve. You can find out more about me and my ministry at http://travisstephens.me