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too much preaching – reuben munn

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I am drowning in preaching. Way too many messages to prepare, way too little time. I’m doing sermon preparation every working morning and most evenings at the moment, which is not healthy. My normal frequency of preaching is three Sundays out of four. Even that is pretty high and I wouldn’t mind cutting it down to three out of five. But last Sunday I started a run of preaching five consecutive Sundays.  Having done that before, I know that the problem starts around week three when I run out of freshness and energy for preaching. After that week four and five are all business, no pleasure. It’s just a case of cranking out sermons, without really experiencing the joy of preaching.

On top of that I have some external preaching commitments in April-May, and some of the time I had planned to use in February preparing for those got swallowed up with some personal issues I was dealing with. That’s resulted in a compressed time-frame to prepare those messages, hence the evening work. It’s not a good situation.

I suppose this is a good time, in the middle of the homiletical storm, to reflect on all this, the effect it has, and how I can avoid this situation in the future. I see the following effects of preaching too much: 1) a lack of freshness and creativity in preaching—sermons become dry (if they weren’t already) and more exegetically than application focused. 2) A loss of interest in preaching on my part. It stops being life-giving and becomes a burden. 3) I just get tired, which is never a good space to be in when doing sermon prep. There are plenty of jobs you can still do well when you are tired, but preaching is not one of them.

So how do we avoid over-preaching? I guess it’s a case of knowing what a healthy frequency of preaching looks like for us and sticking to it. It means knowing what time of day is best for us to do sermon prep and not trying to cram too much extra prep into unfruitful time slots. And it means doing what we can to develop other preachers who can share the load. These are all lessons I am still learning! For now, I need to get back to preparing this week’s message…

One Comment

  1. Sounds like you need a preaching team! I recommend having at least 4 people on it. Gives layfolk lots of time to work on their next sermon. Teams are also a great way of getting mutual feedback going, sharing creative ideas, growing as preachers, and generally feeling less lonely in the pulpit.

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