How Long Do You Take to Prepare A Sermon?

November 20, 2008

For me, 16 to 20 hours. You?

  • 1-4 hours
  • 4- 8 hours
  • 8 – 12 hours
  • 12-16 hours
  • 16-20 hours
  • 20-25 hours
  • 25-30 hours
  • 30 +


  1. It really depends on the week, and the text/sermon. I think, for example, this week, I’ll be spending in the 4-8 hour range, because I’m stopping to do a topical “answering objections” thing as we work our way through Ephesians 5. But there are weeks where the reading load is especially high, or the flow/movement or structure is just a bear, that I’ll spend more like 12-15. So it depends. But to be honest, I don’t really keep close track of the actual hours I spend. For example, how does one track all the various minutes and chunks of hours one spends THINKING on the sermon, in the shower, laying in bed, driving in the car, while watching TV, or for that matter, EVERYwhere during the week?

  2. Usually 16-20 here too; and I think that is ideal. One thing I like to do before preaching for sure is read the passage aloud several times so that I will read it in a professional way that will best capture the interest of the church.

    There have, though, been plenty of instances when I’ve been asked to preach almost immediately. In those instances, I’ve prayed and spent as little as NO preparation time. Once I even selected my passage on the way to the pulpit and God saw me through–the sermon turned out quite well. These times, though, would not have worked out nearly so smoothly had I not habitually spent much larger blocks of time in preparation previously.

  3. On a great week, I like to spend 20 hours on the text and related materials. Unfortunately, not every week is great and the time spent can dwindle down to 10 hours, which I dread. I can never spend enough time in the study of Scripture.

  4. It depends on what you consider preparation really. The last sermon I preached on I spent about two months thinking about and researching. It became like a hobby for me to think on and research the text. Is that preparation?

  5. I should point out that I don’t preach often. 🙂

  6. At the Proc Trust conference last week, David Jackman said that unless we are in a big church with a staff team, we could not really afford to spend more than around 8hours due to the other demands of ministry. What do people think?

  7. I also use about 16-20h of sermon preparation. It is long, but that’s what I need. I’ve done less, but because of a tight schedule, not because of preference or achievement.

  8. I liked the answer a preacher friend of mine gave. He had preached a message at a conference and someone asked how long it took him to prepare for it. He said, “Over 40 years.”

  9. 11 years. E M Bounds said that it takes 15 years to make the sermon because it takes 15 years to make the man. I’ve got 4 years to go I guess.

  10. 25-30, sometimes more… but it still never feels finished.

  11. On average about 10 hours. Of course there are variables, but week in week out, this is about how long it takes me to properly prepare.

  12. As a small church pastor, who ordinarily preaches two sermons each Sunday, probably 6-8 hours per sermon is all I can reasonably afford in sitting-down sermon preparation. As others have pointed out, that doesn’t include miscellaneous thinking time throughou the week!

  13. Just under 4 hours usually. Anything longer and the sermon would be so detailed and dense as to be unpreachable.

  14. I am in seminary and working 40+ hours a week, while teaching on a rotating basis in a Sunday School class and some pulpit supply. This semester, I have spent 4-6 hours per lesson/sermon.

    I would think I would like to be in the 15-18 hour range if/when I am out of seminary and pastoring. But thinking throughout the week is key, as it meditation months in advance of preaching/teaching the text (or so I’ve been told by those more experienced)

  15. As the Pastor of a small to medium sized church 8-12 hours is the most I can spend because I have 2 sermons to prepare and many other duties during the week. Those who have the privledge to spend longer do not relaise how blessed they are.

  16. I am a bi-vocational pastor of a new church plant and work 50-60 hours a week other than church work but I still find I must set aside 12 hours minimum a week to be as prepared as I want to be. Fortunately, my 6 children are all in their late teens and early 20’s and busy with ministry and work of their own so I can shut myself in on Saturday all day and get it done without feeling like I am neglecting my family.

  17. “not long enough!”
    In my limited experience, the longer the time spent on a sermon, the better it is… not quite a universal hypothesis, but for me there is a distinctly positive correlation.

    Of course, including prayer and out-of-study musings, it probably is quite hard to quantify.

    Did you know, Colin, that wordpress have now incorporated a polling system into their site, so you can set up a question like this as a vote, with selectable answers: 1-4, 4-8, etc.?

    Simon. http://www.biblog.org.uk

  18. 16-20 sounds about right

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