How far in advance do you prepare your lessons?

A conversation I had with a friend comes back to mind. His opinion is that,”The best sermons come straight from the heart and don’t need much preparation.”

To be fair he has a point in that over-prepared lessons can be dry. And indeed, we shouldn’t need preparation to be able to take advantage of a situation that suddenly presents itself. The book of Acts shows us many such incidents.

However, such sudden events are rare when it comes to what happens in most congregational speaking opportunities.

I can think of multiple reasons why being well prepared is advantageous, but I would like to explore just the one today.

Preparing your talk well in advance means you can live it.

There is a different quality of authority attached to a lesson which has been lived by the speaker. Why is this? Here are a few of the reasons: 

  1. The truth has time to sink into your own mind and heart
  2. You have time to work out how to live it
  3. In living it you can experience the struggle and bring us the fruit of your struggle

What was it people said about Jesus?

“The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority!” (Mark 1:27 NIV11)

Why was it that Jesus spoke with such authority? Because he lived what he taught – fully. It was not enough to bring us technical truth. He came to bring us enfleshed truth (John 1.17).

There will be times when we need to preach at short notice. We may not always get the preparation space we would prefer. But, when you have opportunity, when you’re provided with the time, begin preparing your lesson well in advance. At least live your lesson for a week before you deliver it. I guarantee that if this is done your message will have far more authority and, to the point, more impact.

What is your normal preparation schedule? How much time do you normally have between being assigned a passage (or picking one) and speaking on it?

I’m off to start preparation for a sermon I’ll be delivering in a two weeks’ time. 

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John