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Reflections On Preaching, Preaching, Preaching

January 31, 2008

After my enjoyable trip to the North of Scotland, let me share a few reflections on preaching five times in one weekend. No doubt many of you will have had to preach multiple times in a short time period. For me it was a sharp learning curve. Here are a few things I learned, however:

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1) Preaching multiple times in a short space of time is a great blessing. Truly. For one thing, you get to proclaim the gospel of Christ again and again – sometimes two or three times in the one day. Its like Sunday sermons back to back to back. What a joy! Furthermore, you have the opportunity of preaching to the same people and developing certain themes to a greater degree.

2) Preaching multiple times is hard work and demands pacing oneself. On a normal weekend of preaching, we usually have one or two sermons to prepare ourselves for. All week we slowly prepare, focusing on that narrow passage or passages. It culminates in that pulsating burst of energy and the Sunday sermon when ‘we give our all.’ Preaching multiple times, however, radically alters the dynamic. My own discovery was that I couldn’t give my ALL in the opening sermon – otherwise there’d be ‘nothing’ left for the other four preaches. As such, perhaps subconsciously, I found myself holding back 10% every time and only on the last sermon did I go full out. Whether the congregation could tell the difference I do not know. But practically it seemed essential for me to apportion my energy.

3) Preaching multiple times creates momentum and the preacher should try and ‘catch the wave.’ As well as the pacing that I mentioned in the prior point, I found that the preaching series itself gathered momentum. This was natural for two reasons. First, I was a visiting preacher and viritually unknown to most present; therefore I naturally built up rapport as the weekend progressed. Additionally, the series itself in Jeremiah had a certain cumulative effect, as the congregation began to build up a picture of the historical context and theological themes throughout the prophecy. For these reasons my last sermon of the five seemed to be the most edifying of all for the congregation.

Any thoughts on preaching multiple sermons in quick succession?

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3 comments

  1. Even preaching twice on a Sunday I can find I struggle if I am particularly enthused with the morning message, to get myself re-aligned and ready to ‘go again’ in the evening. At least a third of the congregation is different at night, so many have not heard what was said in the morning. I often wish that they had!


  2. Thanks for that comment, Jonathan. The ‘peculiar challenges’ preachers face!


  3. In the traditional Free Church setting, the Communion Season involved preaching on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, twice on Sunday, and again on Monday… Usually the congregation would invite a couple of guest ministers to share the responsibility.

    When I was an undergrad, I spent a summer doing resident pulpit supply in a Highland setting where I had to preach three times every Sunday. (There was a rural church attached to the main town-based congregation). It wasn’t the preaching itself I found tiring as much as having to rush between places to get from one service to another.

    I fully agree that preaching multiple times in the samem place, over a short period of time, is a hugely enjoyable privilege.



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