I had been a pastor for about 3 years when I took about 17 people from our church on their first overnight mission trip to Dayton, OH. We were helping a church serve their community. It was there that I first heard the phrase famous among pastors,”Sunday’s always coming.” Today is Monday and some pastors take Mondays off and other pastors begin their study for the next Sunday’s sermon.
I just completed what I think will be my intro to this coming Sunday, Palm Sunday:
Do you know how easy it is to preach a sermon on Palm Sunday? 90% of you could do it:
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while the crowd put down their cloaks and palm leaves for Him. They sang “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Someone once said to me, to make a long story short…
and I replied, “Huh, it just occurred to me that a sermon is taking a short story and making it long.”
So for your Palm Sunday sermon you would hand out palm leaves, parade kids around waving them, talk about how the disciples, especially Judas, must have been eating this up. They were part of a hero’s parade, and thought Jesus (and by default themselves, too) were finally going to get the respect He and they deserved. The 3+ years of following and learning were finally going to pay off. Then you would talk about how quickly all the fans were going to turn on Jesus. How the shouts of “Hosanna” would turn to cries of “crucify Him” in just a few days.
And you would send everyone out of here with a souvenir palm leaf. We would all go eat lunch and have an Easter egg hunt, and another Palm Sunday would be in the books. And in 10 years of ministry, that’s the routine I followed. Not this year. This year, we’re going deeper…
Preaching can be easy if you just feed people sweets. Going deep, on the other hand, requires much work. The truth is that most pastors do not have the time to study the necessary amount to deliver anything but general sermons. And then the people compare their pastor to Max Lucado, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Matt Chandler, and David Jeremiah. Those preachers are not generally doing hospital visits through the week. The famous preachers also typically have research people to help them with their sermons.
In 2009, a small group of us spent a week with Pastor Mike Slaughter and he told us that when preachers short change something, it is usually their sermon. I then recognized that something was wrong when I put my sermons online and put an asterisk by the ones I thought people should listen to.
I do not always spend the time I should on sermon prep, but I do try. And I’m off to a good start this week, having put several hours in already. Most of the readers of my blog do not go to the church I serve, so you who do go to other churches, cut your pastor some slack. When they do not visit like you think they should or when their sermon does not compare to your favorite internet preachers, realize they are doing their best to serve the Lord. And to my pastor friends: don’t be afraid to share this post.