(This was originally posted on April 23, 2019)
“You are probably spending too much time in sermon preparation.”
I never expected to hear that advice from a pastoral mentor last year. But then I heard it from another of my pastoral mentors/coaches in a separate conversation. Since I’m a slow learner, it took me a while to agree with them.
Then I read Ryan Huguley’s book and concluded that my mentors were correct.
There was a point in my life when I would not have read Huguley’s books just because of the title.
“Pssh! 8 hours or less! Sermonette for a Christianette!” would have been my thought (my church background has given me plenty of short yet cringe-worthy statements).
I hesitantly picked up the book and read it. I was hooked by page 13:
I am not saying it takes only eight hours to prepare a sermon. I am a firm believer that the preacher is never finished prepping his sermon until after he has preached it. What I am saying is that more time sitting at your desk does not always guarantee a better product in the pulpit. I am also saying that if you are spending fifteen, twenty, or thirty hours a week preparing your sermon, you are probably doing it wrong.
Then I was assured I was holding gold in my hands when I read on page 20:
Remember, our goal is not simply to write sermons faster; it’s to write faithful sermons faster. We’re not just trying to find a quicker way to throw something together for Sunday. As shepherds of God’s flock (1 Peter 5:2), we are called to feed His sheep (John 21:15–17). This means that every week we should feel the burden of serving a healthy, life-giving meal to God’s people.
Huguley isn’t suggesting light, fluffy, messages when he suggests spending less time preparing sermons. Instead, he is encouraging us to work more efficiently in our sermon preparation process. Huguley provides an effective method on how to prepare sermons. He also takes great care to describe what is and is not faithful preaching.
In short, 8 Hours or Less is a beneficial book on preaching for both the new preacher and seasoned preacher. I’ve been preaching weekly for over 20 years now and found this book very helpful when I read it in 2018, and I plan to reread it this year.
Huguley’s little book is packed with helpful suggestions and reminders about what we are trying to accomplish in preaching. I encourage you to read it soon.
I’ll close with one last helpful reminder from Huguley:
if Christ isn’t in our sermons, we aren’t preaching faithful ones.
Has anyone else read this book? I would love to hear from you if you have or if you are planning to read the book.