Tuesday is for Preaching
“Get saturated with the Gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie asoak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meanings and bearings, and so on, and then after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me.” —Charles H. Spurgeon
cited in Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell, page 103.
As a church planter, there is always something else to do. If you are truly reaching the unchurched, you are regularly working with people who for decades have lived with destructive patterns of behavior that have crippled relationships to name just one consequence with octopus-like tentacles into every area of life. Frankly, even if you are stealing sheep from other churches (not something I recommend), many times the Christians are just as messed up and living with so much inconsistency in their worldview that they are often indistinguishable from their neighbors.
Your counseling load will grow the more “successful” you are at reaching and helping hurting people. When this happens, you will be tempted to cut your study time. You will squeeze it into cramped and hurried places; you will stop reflecting and praying deeply over the text and you will be tempted to resort to emotional storytelling rather than sound biblical trowel work in the text.
Fight the temptation.
One of my seminary profs years ago passed on this piece of advice to his students. He called it his 5-5-5 plan. I have found it to be a good guide for ministry long after my seminary days ended. It is exactly what I attempted to do for the 17 years that I pastored our first church plant and while we were planting 6 other churches out of that church.
Dr. Bill Iverson said, “when you graduate, begin a 5-5-5 plan. Set aside five hours a day, five days a week, for five years for the study and meditation (the brooding over) the text of God’s word. If you will do that, three great results will occur.”
1) You will survive. You will not crash and burn under the weight and demands of caring for the souls of hurting people. You will lay the groundwork for long-term survival in the ministry.
2) You will get to know your God. In the knowing of your God, you will find strength.
3) You will, at the end of five years with such an investment, actually have something to say!
Some of you reading this have been in the ministry for a long time. You are right now in the thick of the battle in the care of souls and you are tempted to dismiss such advice as unrealistic in your busy schedule. So be it.
I can only say, that if you will do it, you and your people will be better for it in the long run. You will preach better, counsel better, live better, help more and sustain your own walk with God in deeper rivers. You won’t regret it.
And your people? They will glory in the man you become and the God you show them in your preaching.