Cheap Preaching?

I have heard many sermons which were merely delivered but not prepared, i.e. they were taken from the internet. Good preaching is not cheap.

Unashamed Workman asked some well known preachers about their time spent in preparing a sermon as well as other aspects of their preaching – this was question 3:

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?

Thabiti Anyabwile: Currently, I devote two full days to sermon preparation—Thursday and Friday. I’ll generally spend about twenty hours over those two days and a few hours through the week reading the text and making notes.

Tim Keller: I pastor a large church and have a large staff and so I give special prominence to preparing the sermon. I give it 15-20 hours a week. I would not advise younger ministers to spend so much time, however. The main way to become a good preacher is to preach a lot, and to spend tons of time in people work–that is how you grow from becoming not just a Bible commentator but a flesh and blood preacher. When I was a pastor without a large staff I put in 6-8 hours on a sermon.

Matt Chandler: On average 6-10 hours.  It used to take me much longer but the more I have studied and preached the quicker it has started to come.

Peter Grainger: Depending on the difficulty of the passage and my familiarity with it, between 15-25 hours.

Ray Ortlund Jr: Early in my ministry, I needed twenty-plus hours to prepare. By now, the disciplines are more streamlined. I average perhaps ten hours or so.

One final quote from Unashamed Workman quoting T. David Gordon:

True preaching requires close examination and study of a quality text, something non-readers have no experience of today.  People don’t study classical languages.  They don’t read literature.  They aren’t equipped to really study a text. People read for content, but don’t learn to look at how a text communicates.

True preaching requires careful composition.  But people don’t write letters anymore.  They talk on the phone. Instead of careful composition, we live in a day of easy and cheap talk.

True preaching requires a sensibility of the significant.  But the only way to watch hours of television is to turn off such sensibility, so most do.

Unashamed Workman recommends some excellent resources to help your preparation.


Spurgeon on Christ

chs_pic.JPGExtra material from sermon preparation. I love the way Spurgeon paints the greatness and glory of Christ.

“All the attributes of Christ, as God and man, are at our disposal. All the fulness of the Godhead, whatever that marvellous term may comprehend, is ours to make us complete. He cannot endow us with the attributes of Deity; but he has done all that can be done, for he has made even his divine power and Godhead subservient to our salvation. His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immutability and infallibility, are all combined for our defence. Arise, believer, and behold the Lord Jesus yoking the whole of his divine Godhead to the chariot of salvation! How vast his grace, how firm his faithfulness, how unswerving his immutability, how infinite his power, how limitless his knowledge! All these are by the Lord Jesus made the pillars of the temple of salvation; and all, without diminution of their infinity, are covenanted to us as our perpetual inheritance. The fathomless love of the Saviour’s heart is every drop of it ours; every sinew in the arm of might, every jewel in the crown of majesty, the immensity of divine knowledge, and the sternness of divine justice, all are ours, and shall be employed for us. The whole of Christ, in his adorable character as the Son of God, is by himself made over to us most richly to enjoy. His wisdom is our direction, his knowledge our instruction, his power our protection, his justice our surety, his love our comfort, his mercy our solace, and his immutability our trust. He makes no reserve, but opens the recesses of the Mount of God and bids us dig in its mines for the hidden treasures. “All, all, all are yours,” saith he, “be ye satisfied with favour and full of the goodness of the Lord.” Oh! how sweet thus to behold Jesus, and to call upon him with the certain confidence that in seeking the interposition of his love or power, we are but asking for that which he has already faithfully promised.”

CH Spurgeon

Moralisitc Therapeutic Deism

be nice.jpgI am into Sundays sermon preparation, this week the text, Colossians 2:6-23, includes “hollow and deceptive philosophy”. No title yet but the germ of an idea – well many germs actually.

One thought to cross my mind was about the type of religion that modern Christianity espouses, ideas such as “God helps those who help themselves” etc., at which point I remembered the research below as reported on this website and many others.

When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these:

1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.”

2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.”

3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”

4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.”

5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”

Is this what you think the Gospel is? Where might you differ in your own definition? Is there anything heretical about the five points above?