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Taking the Pressure Out of Sermon Prep

A longer preparation window reduces anxiety, fosters creativity, and makes us more attentive to the Holy Spirit.

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Displaying 6–10 of 22 comments.

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Sam Rima

November 01, 2015  8:13pm

This is an excellent article by a gifted practitioner. Like Ken, I too suffered from hyper anxiety related to preaching when I was preparing sermons the week I needed to preach them. However, having served on staff with Ken for the past four years (I am now once again serving in a lead pastor role in Seattle) I was amazed by his sermon prep rhythms. Largely, due to his influence, I am now following a similar rhythm. For example, I have my sermons for the next two weeks complete and am this week working on my first sermon for the Advent series. I have also instituted a "Feed Forward" here at our church, again something I learned from Ken, where I run through my sermon with a few staff members and hand-picked people from our congregation representing a broad demographic and am finding it immensely helpful. Every week I make edits based on their feed forward! I can affirm that my preaching experience has changed for the better and I am enjoying preaching as never before!

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October 31, 2015  2:17pm

Thank you Ken. Very insightful as always.

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Craig Pagens

October 30, 2015  12:14pm

Thanks Ken, this is very helpful advice!

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Ken Shigematsu

October 29, 2015  7:17pm

Hi Josh, great question. When unexpected events take up a huge chunk of time, I feel you need to be gentle with yourself and not feel the pressure to conform to a particular routine. As the monks would say a rhythm of life is not something that you serve, but something that serves you. Having said that if you can start a SMALL part of your prep say 7 or 10 in advance it gives you time to percolate on the text and pray over it.

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Philip Soh

October 29, 2015  6:30pm

Thanks, Ken, for candid sharing. If like you, who preach 3/4 Sundays monthly, one has to space/pace each sermon, an uneasy task amidst pastoral duties. More so, if it’s a book series, one has to connect the flow. You ‘vetted’ past pastoral-lay colleagues before final edit; we do so in 1-hour devotion by the preacher of that week. It adds insights. Like you, I’ve a sermon outline, helpful to focus the thrust of the sermon. When I can sit in a BS group, it helps gauge how much was grasped, while working on my next sermon. Recently, I preached impromptu as the invited preacher failed to turn up (it happened twice). Had I not been a keen hearer to further shape my thoughts from others’ preaching in the series, I would be lost. Dr Craig Bartholomew, an OT scholar/Christian philosopher, shared on ‘Preaching the Bible for All its Worth: Landing the Plane’. I’m still mulling over what he said & his book ‘Excellent Preaching’. Preaching truly is a breath-taking task under His Word & Spirit!

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