Why I Can’t Tell You How Long Sermon Prep Takes

I sometimes get asked about how long it takes me to prepare for a sermon. The usual writing of it while sitting at the computer takes between an hour and an hour and a half. But the sermon preparation takes much longer.

But how long?

I can’t tell you. It’s not because it is a secret and that if I told you, I would have to kill you. The truth is that I have no idea.

There are certain set things that I do. Most often I take some time to translate the passage from Hebrew or Greek. I also read from a couple of commentaries as well. But my sermon preparation is much more than that.

First, those activities I just described are done nine days before I actually sit down to write the sermon. This allows me to think about it for a good chunk of time. I consider this a part of my sermon preparation time because my subconsciousness is working on the sermon.

Secondly, I don’t just prepare for one sermon at a time. I read a lot of books. I read between two and four books a week on wide range of subjects. I also listen to dozens of podcasts, also on a wide range of subjects. This is also part of my sermon preparation, even though I don’t know what I will use or what sermon it will be included in.

Thirdly, I observe life. I’m always looking for things from everyday life to use in my sermons. Most often my illustrations are from my own experiences. When things happen to me or my family, I try to find a God connection.

If I added up all this activity, I don’t know how long it takes me to prepare for any sermon. The point is that I try to take the posture of a student when it comes to all I see, read or experience.

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