If you follow the method I propose, you will always have good things to preach about. You will always have a storehouse of material, thoughts, insights, challenges and illustrations to build into a sermon or lesson.
VEGETABLES OR WEEDS?
When I was a little boy, growing up on a farm town, my parents planted a garden behind our house. After carefully plowing the soil, putting fertilizer on it and making the rows, we planted seeds along the furrows. A few weeks later, my parents were out in the garden pulling weeds.
Even though I was only about six or seven years old, I went out to help them. When I asked what I could do, my mother told me to pull the weeds so the vegetables could grow. As I remember it now, we were growing onions in the row I worked in.
After several minutes, my mother, who was working in front of me, turned around to see how I was doing. “Oh no,” she said, “You’re pulling up the onions, not the weeds!” I didn’t know the difference between a weed and an onion plant.
Not every idea that we get is a good one. Not every thought we think is from the Lord. Some ideas and thoughts are good ones; they bear fruit in time. But some are weeds. We need to allow them to grow long enough to be able to see the difference and then be experienced enough to know which ones to pull and which ones to leave to grow longer.
If you wait until the last minute to put together a sermon or lesson, you will inevitably serve up both weeds and vegetables to your congregation. If you begin preparing your sermons and lessons weeks and months in advance you’ll have the time and experience to know the difference. You’ll offer up only healthy meals to the people.
GOING TO WORK
Begin now to build sermons or lessons. On a piece of paper, write out at least seven ideas or topics for sermons you would like to preach or lessons you would like to teach. If you are having a hard time getting started, use these questions to help you begin.
- What do you feel strongly about right now? What gets you most excited? Angry? What moves you to action?
- What do the people in your church or class want to know? What do they ask you about the most?
- Can you preach a message or teach a class on one of those things they are asking for? Can you teach or preach more than one time on it?
- List seven thoughts you have about one of those subjects.
HOW GREAT SERMONS ARE MADE
Outside, it was hot and very humid; inside, the air conditioners made it quite comfortable. Outside, the noise of the car horns and noisy mufflers made it very difficult to talk; inside, people were singing praises so you didn’t want to talk.
After an hour of worship and prayer, the interpreter stood to introduce the speaker. Speaking in Indonesian, he told us about the life of this man from Holland who now lived in Hong Kong with an Indonesian wife and two adopted Japanese children. When the speaker began to share the Word, everybody listened. We forgot the humidity and the noise. We were listening to every word the speaker had to say. He was powerful.