The Heartbeat

One of the real joys of pastoring is the writing of sermons. Some well-known pastors have talked about spending "one hour for each minute" of preaching in study and preparation. I have never bought into that. For if one took that to heart one would never be doing anything but studying and preparing one's sermons. On the other end of the spectrum was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that 19th century English preacher, generally regarded back then as well as today as one of the greatest preachers to have ever preached in the English language. Not only was Spurgeon an incredibly gifted speaker, but what irked the other pastors of his time is how Spurgeon would put his sermons together on Saturday night, after supper! It was his general practice to have dinner guests on Saturday evening, and then following that time of eating and visitation with his guests he would excuse himself, go into his study, and prepare his sermon for the next morning. So not only was Spurgeon good but he was fast!

We each have our gifts. Personally, I thank God that I have been able to quite quickly (usually in 4-6 hours) put together my sermon for each Sunday. The longer one has been pastoring and preaching the easier this gets, mainly because one becomes increasingly familiar with the texts plus one has an ever-increasing list of life illustrations to draw from. D.L. Moody, a contemporary of Spurgeon, was known for preaching sermons that were more than 50% stories and anecdotes. You are still quite young but with each passing month and year you will see how the events of life fit into your own sermon writing.

In general, I think it is good to make use of these stories from your own life. Avoid using people's names, particularly when the use of such could prove to be embarrassing to that person. And don't ever reveal things that were told you in private, at least never in a way that could jeopardize a person's trust in your ability to keep things confidential.

Some will tell you that today's modern audiences cannot tolerate a sermon that is beyond 15 or 20 minutes in length, but this is untrue and used, I believe, as an excuse to help cover for those miserable preachers who simply can't hold anyone's attention for more than a few minutes. Many of the great preachers of the past as well as today regularly preach(ed) for 45-50 minutes. I think my average sermon length is around 38-40 minutes. But you will find your place.

Stay grounded in the scriptures. I want to write you more about that next week.

By His Grace,
Doug Winne

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