Finding the right time to sermon prep has always been a task for me. Ever since my preaching ministry began, I’ve struggled to ensure that my time outside the pulpit best prepared me for my time inside the pulpit.
For years I seemed to always be in fear of the next time I spoke because I was preparing right until the final moment. I soon realized the word “deadline” had “dead” in the word for a reason – when I was doing things last minute it was sucking the life out of me and my sermons. My stress went up, the Cheetos and junk food came out and sleep was nonexistent.
Not anymore. I soon resolved this was not pleasing God, nor was it fair to my family or my body. So here is my newfound schedule that seems to be working:
On Monday (which usually is my hardest day simply because it follows Sunday) I do all my “business” stuff – important meetings, emails, planning, weekly reviews, and anything else that needs to be done. This is also the day when we have our elder meetings. This week my Monday was literally a 16-hour workday; I started my first meeting at 8:15 AM and I got in my car to go home at 12:15 AM. I don’t recommend this as a regular habit, but for the preacher inside me, it helps if my Mondays are anything and everything but preaching.
Tuesday is my “Crafting day.” I usually do this away from the office in a coffee shop, the Denver Seminary Library, or my home office. It is important that this day has as few interruptions as possible. I spend time crafting the sermon for the weekend coming up. I already did my hard study on the previous Thursday (See below), and the goal is to have the weekend sermon done by that night.
Wednesday is a “Business” day again, where I am doing the admin work for the church. I also always have a mentoring lunch on Wednesdays – either I am being mentored or mentoring someone else (it rotates every other week). I also have a standing Wednesday afternoon appointment with the chairman of our Elder Council.
Thursday is my “Heavy lifting day” (I stole that term from my bodybuilding brother. He uses it in reference to lifting weights in the gym; I use it is terms of lifting lots of books in my office). On this day I am at the church office so I can be around the staff and volunteers. The nature of my study is one that allows for some (not many) interruptions. This study is for the next week’s sermon. The document I create on this day is then used as the main resource on the following Tuesday to craft the next message.
Plan your work, work your plan.
Friday is another “Business day” but I usually work from home. I will have a rare appointment here or there only if absolutely necessary. I take time to work on major projects, finish up minuscule tasks, and usually return the left over emails from the week (I try to leave my inbox empty before the weekend starts).
With this schedule I am getting 16 hours of study a week (which is my goal) and I am splitting up my study day and my crafting day, which allows for the text of Scripture to sink in before crafting. This ensures that my sermon is done by Tuesday of each week so I don’t have any late-in-the-week stress… because Sunday is always screaming down my neck.
What is your preparation schedule? How many hours do you try to give your sermon each week?