I’ve given this a lot of thought, and have also enlisted a few friends to assist. Here are the results, ways in which the minister can abbreviate the time he spendsin sermon prep for God’s people.
Here they are:
18 Dubious Ways to Shorten Sermon Prep Time
In the secular world, this is called plagiarism. But we pastors know “God richly gives us all good things to share” or something like that. Fortunately, your people don’t read other preachers’ sermon books anyway, so they’ll never know. (Disadvantage: if the written sermon bombed, chances are yours will, too.)
Everyone knows repetition is a proven learning technique. Warning: do not call these sermons ‘repeats’ or ‘re-runs.’ “Previously preached’ is also verboten. If you have to put a label on them, try ‘Back by popular demand.’ It sounds better.(Disadvantage: some little sister in the church writes in the margins of her Bible every time you have preached a particular text, so you’ll need to vary your Scripture even if it’s the same sermon.)
Tell a story out of your childhood and turn it into a microcosm of the universe, or at least of the gospel. Didn’t Phillips Brooks call preaching ‘truth through personality’? The advantages are that you are the authority on yourself, no one can contradict you, and very little study time is required. (Disadvantage: if nothing dramatic has happened to you, this can get boring quickly.)
Our Lord said people prefer old wine to the new (Luke 5:39). So, with that great insight in mind, choose a well-loved subject, reinforce it with three obvious points–preferably all starting with the letter ‘P’–and then belabor the obvious.
An example of this could be a sermon on the Second Coming of Christ. Your points could be the PROPHECY of His coming (when), the PURPOSE of His coming (why), and the PEOPLE of His coming (whom).
The good thing about this approach is if you need to stretch out the sermon, your concordance has lots more ‘P’ words. Think how exciting your message becomes as you touch on the PROOF, the PRECEPT, the PREPARATION, the PRICE, the PROCEDURE, the PROFIT, the POSSIBILITIES, the POWER, the PLAN, the PLACE, the PATIENCE, and the PARADISE of His return. Any preacher worth his salt could wax eloquent for hours on these without a moment’s advance notice. (Disadvantage: you’ll probably want to leave out some of the good thoughts you had on this sermon, otherwise it can last till…well, until the Lord comes back.)
As you know, a concordance gives you a word and tells you where to find it in Scripture. But, if you have an aversion to actually studying for your sermons, you can use it as a book of magic. Look up a word and find at least three usages throughout Scripture that work for you. Let each reference suggest one main point of the sermon.
Then, go cut the grass while your subconscious reflects on how to make a sermon out of that odd collection of Scriptures. (Disadvantage: you have to own a concordance. Oh, and know how to read.)
Find some preacher no one has ever heard of who streams his sermons and is glad to share them. Your people will never be the wiser. (Disadvantage: in the time it takes to learn someone else’s sermon, you could be working on one of your own.)