What to Do When It’s Saturday Night and Your Sermon Is Bad

If you realize your sermon is no good the night before you preach it, what will you do?

It was Saturday night. I sat down to put the final touches on my sermon for the morning. I wrote the sermon quite a while ago in my process of getting ahead. I dusted my sermon off earlier in the week and worked on internalizing it.

Saturday night was my normal routine of practicing out loud and making a few minor tweaks. It’s usually very smooth and easy.

But then, I ran into a big problem.

I realized that the main idea for my message was based on a misinterpretation of my key passage of scripture. It was an easy mistake to make. It was only a minor misinterpretation. I could preach it and most people wouldn’t even know the difference or even care if they did.

It was a stupid mistake that I should have caught the week I wrote the message. But to be honest, I cut corners on my usual process of study because of how busy the week was.

So there I was, hours before I was supposed to preach, with a real problem.

Do I say, “Too late now,” and preach through the problem with the intention to never let it happen again? Or do I completely rewrite my message only hours before I have to preach it?

What would you do?

I will tell you what I did. After a minor panic attack, I put on my big boy pants, poured myself a cup of coffee, and rewrote the entire sermon as best I could in the time I had.

Was I frustrated with myself? Yes. Was I tired? Yes. But was my conscience clean? Absolutely.

Thankfully, my new sermon went well. It wasn’t as polished as I would have liked. It wasn’t as engaging as my other sermon would have been. But deep down, I know that I did my due diligence as the shepherd of my flock.

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I don’t ever want this situation to happen again. But at least I slept great Sunday night knowing I did my absolute best to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

What about you? If you found a misinterpretation or misapplication in your sermon the night before you preach, what would you do?

Brandon Hilgemann
Brandon Hilgemann has been on a 10-year journey to become the best preacher he can possibly be. During this time, he has worked in churches of all sizes, from a church plant to some of the largest and fastestgrowing churches in the United States. Brandon writes his thoughts and ideas from his journey at ProPreacher.com.
  • Ps Shaun Walker

    I bet I can beat that. I was reviewing my message as I drove into the church carpark before church one Sunday morning when I came to the realisation that I also had in a rush misinterpreted the key scripture. Thankfully the Holy Spirit led me to spend most of the service in worship and ministering to the congregation, but I learnt a big lesson – check and double check before I “sign off” on a message!

  • Joel Hensley

    I’m not a pastor, but I’ve preached many sermons at different places. I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced a misinterpretation or misapplication scenario. That being said, it’s very probable that I’ve misinterpreted or misapplied something and only became aware of it later. I actually had to seek counsel, because I learned things that changed some of the things I preached on years ago. It wasn’t like I was leading people astray, I’d just made conclusions based on what I knew at the time and then learned how passages applied to other passages, which changed those conclusions. Anyway, that being said, to answer your question, I would pull an all nighter in order to get it right. But that’s normal for me — pulling all nighters. I usually give myself 2-3 weeks to write a sermon, or even a Bible study, because I spend most of that time wrestling with the Lord over what to say. It’s usually either a struggle between what I want to say and what I know He wants me to say; or it’s a struggle to see what He wants me to see. I can do a decent job, but He can give me something wonderful and I’d rather share that than something I come up with. Either way, the struggle usually lasts until I take the podium.