Stephen Um has generously shared his rhythm on the Gospel Coalition blog. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of his sermon preparation.
- Tuesday: 2 1/2 hours of group discussion with pastoral staff, 4 hours of research.
- Thursday: 4 hours on broader themes, commentaries, theology, etc.
- Friday: AM-application. PM-manuscript/outline.
- Saturday: PM-3 hours of review and pray over sermon.
- Sunday: 6am-9am prayer.
Three elements stand out to me. Three elements challenge me.
- Community. Um spends a couple hours with his staff working through the passage. I don’t hear of too many pastors doing this, but what a great way to align your staff and generate ideas.
- Prayer. I am both impressed with how much Um prays and that he considers prayer to be a formal part of sermon preparation. This is refreshing and vital.
- Time. This is one of the most extensive schedules I’ve seen. In Biblical Sermons: How Twelve Preachers Apply the Principles of Biblical Preaching, various preachers offer their prep time averages. One preacher totaled as low as 8 hours a week, while another topped out at 20 hours a week. Most were somewhere in the middle. But Um’s week, depending on his Friday hours (which he does not specify), would consistently breach 20 hours. I am genuinely impressed by his commitment to preach the Word well.
Um’s testimony of faithfulness exhorts me to prepare sermons all the more diligently. I hope it spurs you on too.
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