Every sermon I prepare has so much more material than I can say. Each week I have 25-35 minutes to talk about a passage or topic in front of my Church. It takes me somewhere between 10-20 hours to prepare for that moment. I read, research, study, and write knowing that I will not say everything I want.
For many years I struggled with this idea. I saw my sermons go from 15 minutes each week, up to 20, then 30, and at one point about 45 minutes. What do you leave out and still honor the Lord? This was the question I struggled with weekly.
Then God gave me a moment of clarity. What if my goal was not to explain everything; instead, it was to get people thinking? What if people went home saying, ” I know there is more scripture about that topic?” Others might say, “I am not sure that is true. I definitely need to read more.” What if the goal was not to say everything about a topic or passage but just enough to make people want to know more?
One of my favorite teachers said, “Don’t hit the ball and then run around the net and try to hit it back. Let the audience decide if they want to hit it or just let it fall.”
Over the past couple of years, this thinking has infiltrated my sermons, teaching, and writing. As a result, I am willing to be brief, say less, and leave some things open-ended. I still have firm ideas and solid convictions, but I no longer feel like I need to share everything in each setting.
God is big, the Bible is complex, and people seeking the truth will find it. I hope to push people in the right direction, and one of my favorite things to hear when I am finished is, “Preacher, that got me thinking.”