Pastoral Ministry

Finding Freedom in the Preaching Moment

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You have felt it: freedom in the preaching moment.

Every word was ready in your mind before you needed it. No lost trains of thought, no awkward transitions, no repetitive words. The takeoff, flight, and landing were all perfectly smooth. You preached with power. You preached with confidence and humility.

In the aftermath, you think back on what made the sermon go so well.

“Was it my notes style? Was it my morning routine? Was it the amount of sleep I got the night before? Was it the way I studied?”

Your mind races trying to figure out the magic sauce that made the sermon better than normal.

You figure out whatever you think it was. You try to duplicate the exact process the next week. You stand to preach. It flops. You shake hands and leave the church. On the drive home you repeat the process from the week before, except to figure out what went wrong.

“Did I not bring enough notes into the pulpit? Did I bring too many? Did I accept one too many meeting requests last week? Did I not study enough?”

An after-action-review can be extremely helpful. Just make sure you focus on more than technique. Technique is about the methods we use to prepare for the preaching moment. Technique is important. But there is more to preaching than technique.

Technique alone will not provide the consistent freedom you are after.

You could have translated the text from the original language, conducted every word study, read every commentary you desire, crafted the perfect outline, completed your drafting by Thursday afternoon, and somehow feel less than free when you stand to preach on Sunday.

Then another week rolls around where everything goes wrong, and your preparation is cut to a quarter its usual time. You screech in on two wheels Sunday morning with some last-minute notes and the sermon is a home run. You felt as if you were running on the clouds, carried along in absolute freedom.

Should you cut down your preparation time in non-crazy weeks? Are you preparing too much?

Probably not.

What happened, then?

You were forced to rely on something besides your preparation. You were forced to rely on the Lord. You preached like you needed God for the sermon to work. And God blessed.

In the long-run (and the short-run too), God will not honor lazy preparation. But in a normal week it is easy to rely more on our preparation than the living God.

For all the energy you pour into preparation, do not neglect the posture of your heart.

Consistent freedom in the preaching moment is found at the nexus of preparation and posture.

Prepare well. Devote yourself to excellence in all the technique of preparation. Strive to hone your skills at every turn. But in all your preparation do not forsake the posture of your heart.

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

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MDiv Preaching and Pastoral Ministry

The Preaching and Pastoral Ministry track prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on expository preaching.

  • Pastoral Ministry
  • Pastoral Preaching
  • Preaching
Quentin Self

Quentin Self is the Lead Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Canton, GA. He holds a Masters of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in preaching from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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