I read an interesting article about people’s feelings about sermons. You can read the full article here, but allow me to list some of the main points:
- Nearly all churchgoers “look forward” to the sermon.
- Some view sermons as educational, some as entertainment.
- Catholics wanted the sermon to last 10 minutes. Baptists were fine with a 75-minute sermon.
- Only 17% say the sermon leads them to change their lifestyle.
Only 17%?!? If that’s the case, why do I (and other pastors) spend so much time preparing a message?
I made a change a while ago. Instead of trying to prepare a sermon, I try to prepare myself.
I’m not a fake-it-until-I-make-it pastor. I don’t tell my congregation how they should live, I tell them how the Holy Spirit is challenging me to live.
I don’t walk to the platform on Sunday morning with my finger pointing out at my congregation, but with my finger pointing squarely at me.
I stumbled upon this anonymous poem a number of years ago. This is my goal in my sermon prep:
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.
And the best of all preachers are the men who live their creeds.
For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.
I can soon learn how to do it if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in actions, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
So, pastor, it’s not really sermon prep you should be doing, but individual heart prep.