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Preaching Prep Time

When I first started preaching, I wondered how much time to factor into my week to preach quality, original sermons on a weekly basis. Previously, I led several groups in a software company. One developed and delivered training to our customers for a very complex product. So I knew how much prep time an instructor to produce a one hour class for a brand new product, and how much it took an instructor to prepare to teach an hour of content that she inherited from a previous instructor. I also found some corresponding numbers for a professor to teach an hour's class at an undergrad level.

Putting all that together with my personal experience, I ended up here:

To preach a 30-minute original sermon every week required me to spend 12-16 hours on that week's sermon and another 2-3 hours on future sermons (including listening to other good preachers and otherwise continually upgrading my general preaching skillset). There were some weeks when that was impossible, but averaged over time that's what it took.

To preach a 30-minute sermon where I was leaning heavily on someone else's material took less time. In that case, more like 6-10 hours for that week's sermon. Even today, when asked to substitute for a single Sunday, and I'm basing the message on one that I developed and preached myself, it still takes this kind of time. It always results in significant revision. If called upon on a Saturday night to cover for a sick preacher the next morning, I can do okay with just a couple of hours. But to do it right takes more time.



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