I love sermon preparation and talking about it. As of the last few months, my preparation time has transitioned from approximately 25ish hours a week to 20ish hours.
I have become much more intentional on being focused during my preparation time, and it is now saving me approximately five hours per week. Here are some tips to make it happen . . .
- Plan your preaching calendar.
I have written about this at length, and you should read about it. If you don’t already know what you’re going to preach, it’s going to eat up your time. You’ll spend time searching, praying, and seeking the will of God for what you should deliver to the people of God when you could’ve already done it.
- Do your exegesis and word studies separately from your “sit down and crank it out” time.
This helps you to already have a solid grasp of the text or topic. That way, when you sit down to completely crank out the manuscript, you’re way more knowledgeable.
- Clear your calendar.
Tuesdays are my primary sermon prep days. I don’t do much of anything on Tuesdays besides sermon prep. I certainly don’t meet with anyone on Tuesdays. Guard your calendar if you want to be efficient in your sermon preparation process.
- Turn off wifi.
This is the number one piece of advice I can give you to make you more efficient as you prepare sermons. Have no internet access around you. It is amazing how much time you can piddle away on social media.
You may think, “I need the internet to prepare my sermon.” I do some, but not as much as I thought I did.
Here’s what I do: In my manuscript, I insert a note to myself and highlight it that I need to research something online for that particular portion of the sermon. Then, I wait to get to that until all other parts of the sermon are over.
Seriously, turning off wifi has revolutionized how I save time during sermon preparation.
- Turn off your phone.
I don’t mean you should put it on vibrate. I mean you need to turn it off. I always text my wife right before I turn it off and tell her if she REALLY needs to talk with me about something, to call the church office.
- Communicate with great clarity to your congregation and staff that your study time is your highest work priority.
My entire church knows that I prepare all day on Tuesdays. Over my fours years as pastor here, I’ve developed clarity with the congregation that I need people to essentially leave me alone on Tuesdays so I can love on them with less mental distractions the other days of the week.
- Coach your assistant to guard you like Fort Knox.
My assistant lets all calls from my family go through to me when I’m in sermon preparation. Other than that, she explains to people that I am studying. Sometimes, people try to talk her into piping them through because it’ll supposedly just take 5 minutes.
You can’t afford to get sidetracked. It’ll kill your time. It’ll kill your focus.
I hope this post will help you to save time in your sermon preparation process. Do you have any additional thoughts on this? Let me know in the comment section below!
Related articles I’ve written:
- Why and How I Write and Publish Entire Sermon Series Before Preaching Them
- A Step-by-Step Explanation of How I Prepare A Sermon
- How to Effectively Plan Sermon Series
- A 9 Step Process to Planning A Personal Sermon Planning Retreat
- 9 Ancillary Tools, Other Than Your Actual Notes, Involved in Delivering A Sermon