by Norm Miller
“What a pastor does with Scripture on Sunday reflects what God’s Word did to him the other six days of the week.”
The particular arrangement of the words above is original, but the thoughts expressed therein may not be. It was Spurgeon who said, “The Ancients have stolen my best thoughts.”
Nonetheless, the thoughts and words came to me late Sunday afternoon, and I whittled on them until the verbiage made some sense and totaled less than 140 characters per Twitter parameters.
Whence came the words? Being involved in this blog, and the subsequent and requisite Twitter world, I always have several snippets wandering through my head. One is this quote attributed to Leonard Ravenhill: “Some preachers ought to put more fire into their sermons or more sermons into the fire.”
And then I think of Unappreciated Pastor, who tweeted regarding his sermon prep as “nothin’ but net.” I took that to mean the Internet.
Here are two more from Unappreciated Pastor (@Rev_Norespect):
“Everything I learned about sermon prep I learned from my preschooler. We both cut and paste.”
“Am I worried about the rain keeping people from church tomorrow? No, my folks know it’s always dry at our church.”
I am stumped regarding why more than three dozen people — at the time of this writing — retweeted and/or favorited the tweet. That just doesn’t happen for this fledgling.
Thinking about why so many liked the quote led me to a few Bible verses:
2 Tim 2.15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Heb. 13.7: “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”
Isaiah 55.11: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Pastors know these verses as well as they understand the holy burden of sermon prep and delivery. And that harks to a quote by Havner, I think, who noted that a sermon ought to prepare the pastor long before he prepares to deliver it.
Thus, the point of my tweet, and that is to be prepared by the Word of God before preparing a sermon from it. Be delivered unto that place God wants you to be before you deliver a sermon.
We get it.
But then there is this related, thought-provoking, onus-instilling tweet by: Shannon Morrison (@thirdday1fan): “True with preparing your heart to listen to the preacher’s message too … starts well before Sunday morn.”
How does that statement impact you as a pastor? Does it hit you harder as coming from a church member than the weight of proper sermon prep gives you gravity before God?
How does that statement impact you as a church member? Do you spend the week getting ready to hear from God’s Word through God’s preacher on Sunday morning?
Now back up and take a look from outside these realms. Assess what is happening – or what should be happening. The pastor and parishioner both are dependent upon God and His Word though the week so that when all is conflated come Sunday, God’s Word is preached and obeyed, lives are changed, and the world is impacted.
Sunday sermon prep starts on Monday, for all of us.