After reading this post on NAMB’s SEND Network blog, I thought I would offer an explanation of my sermon prep habits for fellow BIVO workers.
When I was a seminary student, I longed for the day when I would be a full-time pastor and have the ability to block off hours of my schedule to devote to sermon study. However, God would have other plans. What I did not know is that He would lead me to a bi-vocational (BIVO) lifestyle and ministry.
Over the course of eight years of working as a middle school science teacher, missionary, and church planter, I have had to figure out how to balance the demands of family, work, and ministry while ensuing that I have time to prepare my sermon each week. While I don’t spend 20 hours working on a sermon, I do dedicate myself to study and preparation. What follows is a synopsis of what I attempt to practice, knowing that each week is different and demands on my time can change.
Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday: reading the text in my quiet time
Early in the week, I take time to read the text and meditate upon it. I mostly preach expositional sermons rather than topical sermons, so I approach the text asking, “What does it mean?” and “How does it apply to me?” During this period, I will make observations about the text, ask questions, and even propose a basic outline.
Thursday: outline & overview
By Thursday, I feel familiar with the text and begin to use commentaries to answer any questions I have asked during my reading thus far. I have Thursday evenings blocked off to read commentaries, extract quotes/illustrations, finalize my outline, and possibly begin typing my notes.
Friday & Saturday: family & friends
I normally don’t complete any sermon study on Friday & Saturday beyond reading the text (and maybe a section of a commentary) during my quiet times as Friday nights are typically reserved for outings with friends and Saturdays are “family days.”
Sunday: final prep & preach
During the week, I do all of my initial sermon study in a notebook. I love taking the time to write using pen & paper. On Sunday morning, I will wake up around 5:30 and finalize typing my notes and sermon slides before my family wakes up. I feel this helps me review the text before beginning the business that is “Sunday morning set-up.” As we are a small church, I help set-up most weeks and play drums in the worship band, so this early morning session is my last chance to review.
When it comes time to preach, I use my Cambridge Wide-Margin ESV, and my notes have been transferred to iBooks on my iPad. I love using a physical Bible, and my iPad allows me to easily flip between pages without having to worry about anything falling from my music stand.
Much of what I learned about preaching came from my mentor, Bro. Al Jackson of Lakeview Baptist in Auburn, AL. He is a great preacher and teacher, and having the opportunity to learn from him has impacted me greatly. The book he used in class was Wayne McDill’s 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching.
If you are BIVO and want to know more about how to prepare sermons while balancing the secular and the sacred, I recommend you reach out to Hugh Halter. I recently received some coaching from him, and he has some great advice to offer in this area.