When I was in seminary, I remember the professor one day handing out a resource for us entitled, “How to Build A Sermon in Only Ten Hours.” We had been taught that the average time it took to build sermons was 20-40 hours per sermon. Most people simply do not realize the time that pastors and Bible teachers put into building sermon outlines and Bible studies.
With all the other demands on spiritual leaders, a huge time crunch is created when it comes to preparing for the message of the week. Like or not, ready or not, Sunday morning comes around. And for a lot of pastors, so does Sunday night, Wednesday night, and the weekly radio program, the weekly Bible study, the monthly men’s group, the frequent funerals and the occasional revival meeting. Preaching is such a wonderful calling but that does not lessen the time constraints.
Fortunately, we are in the advent of new methods of communication. There are some wonderful resources available for preachers that offer quality materials that also save time. The computer is having a great impact on the landscape of sermon preparation. Think of these factors:
1. A pastor can Google any Bible verse, word, or question and instantly get tens of thousands of pages representing a volume of study that someone has undertaken.
2. The hours of preparation time that are taken over the course of a year in just flipping pages and looking for a resource are eliminated in a click. This is certainly a wise use of time. Why take ten minutes to scour through Strong’s Concordance looking for the meaning of a Greek word when you can do a one second click and find every reference to that word in Strong’s and other word-study resources?
3. An idea library awaits at the nearest PC for every Bible teacher. Many times just reading one idea another preacher shares can ignite pages of thought. This is iron sharpening iron. There are tens of thousands of free sermons to be read and studied online.
These factors are just three amidst many that could be listed. Now a word about abusing privilege. Some people are concerned that pastors will simply come to rely on the work of others without studying themselves, so they discourage the use of the computer in Bible study. To this concern let me say four other quick things:
1. Yes, some will. Eden was perfect but it was still abused.
2. Some still do without the computer by just using books, cd’s, etc. Any thing good can be misused,
3. The use of other’s material to guide us can be blessed by God as we receive it into our own hearts, experience its truth for ourselves, and then share it with others and let them know where we first heard it.
4. Taking an idea that blesses us and building upon it is a method of learning we all use in every area of our lives and we should.
So, just make sure you do your study, whatever the method, with integrity and true heart hunger, and I believe you will be in a safe place and be used by God in what you do.
This article written by Eddie Lawrence, who is a pastor and also the overseer of Sermon Seedbed, a free online Bible study site.