Do you prepare like Spurgeon?

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Jar1979

Puritan Board Freshman
Fellow Pastors,

I'm interested to know if anyone on the PB approaches their sermon preparation similar to the way Spurgeon is purported to have done. Though he read widely throughout the week, he reserved a couple of hours on Saturday evenings to decide what text to preach on and then develop the sermon for Sunday morning. Obviously, his unique giftedness equipped him to prepare in this way, but If you do something like this, how does it work for you? I'm not looking to preach this way myself, I'm just genuinely curious if others do.

Blessings,

Rick Davis
Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH
 
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Reformed Roman

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey Rick.

My Pastor at my previous church did that. I found it quite strange.

When I preach I normally prepare on Thursday or Friday. And I try to go through everything to and get what I need in my head on Saturday, and I preach on Sunday.

I'm curious if others do also
 

Jar1979

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey Zach,

How were your former Pastor's sermons? By that I mean, did it sound like he hadn't done enough preparation or did the Spirit bless him?

Rick Davis
The Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
All of which reminds me of the story* about the pastor who decided he would no longer prepare his sermons, but would instead wait upon the Lord for the Spirit's leading and inspiration.

The first week out, he waited. Monday...Tuesday...Wednesday....Thursday. Still nothing from the Lord.
Friday....nothing.
Saturday, more of the same, but now the pastor is getting nervous.

Finally, driving to church on Sunday morning, the Lord spoke to him at last: "You're not ready, are you?"

[*offered not in a spirit of jest, but rather, to make the point that God does expect the minister to prepare--to wrestle both with the text and with his own life. The unapplied text should not be preached.]

Spurgeon obviously had a great memory and a great depth of study, with prior weeks and even years of preparation which he could bring to bear almost at a moments notice. That's quite different from simply waiting till Saturday evening.

How many here on the PB disagree with Spurgeon's non-expository approach?
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
I once heard of a pastor who boasted that he did his sermon prepartion during his Sunday morning stroll from the parsonage to the sanctuary. Upon hearing this, the congregation overwhelmingly decided to by a new parsonage - a bit farther from the church.

I think that you are right to note Spurgeon's "unique giftedness" that all may not share. I think it is also proper for a pastor to consider his sermon to be the apex of his ministerial duties for the week. As such, I would think that prayerful preparation would rightfully occupy a considerably greater allotment of time than simply "a couple of hours on Saturday evening." That being said, I too would be interested to learn of any pastors who are able to discharge their duties effectively in the way that Spurgeon did.
 

Jar1979

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Wayne,

"How many of you here on the PB disagree with Spurgeon's non-expository approach?" That's part of the issue isn't it? How is it possible to preach sound expository sermons, even with Spurgeon's prodigious gifting, preparing in the way that he did? Of course, he was more interested in pursuing a "Puritan model" of preaching than an expository one. Thanks for weighing in.

Rick Davis
The Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Wayne, I find it hard to disagree with Spurgeon's approach. He did what any faithful preacher does; accurately proclaim the text and appeal to his hearers to act upon receiving it.

Sent using my most excellent Android device.
 

Jar1979

Puritan Board Freshman
I think it is also proper for a pastor to consider his sermon to be the apex of his ministerial duties for the week. As such, I would think that prayerful preparation would rightfully occupy a considerably greater allotment of time than simply "a couple of hours on Saturday evening."

I agree.

Rick Davis
The Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH
 

goodnews

Puritan Board Freshman
Fellow Pastors,

I'm interested to know if anyone on the PB approaches their sermon preparation similar to the way Spurgeon is purported to have done. Though he read widely throughout the week, he reserved a couple of hours on Saturday evenings to decide what text to preach on and then develop the sermon for Sunday morning. Obviously, his unique giftedness equipped him to prepare in this way, but If you do something like this, how does it work for you? I'm not looking to preach this way myself, I'm just genuinely curious if others do.

Blessings,

Rick Davis
Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH

Thanks for the question. I'm no expert on Spurgeon. But, I would be shocked if he was able to write sermons of that length on Sunday morning. I would also be shocjed if he was able to preach sermons of that quality in an extemporaneous fashion. Maybe I'm wrong. He was considered to be the heir of the Puritan preachers. And the Puritans generally wrote and read their sermons. I'm guessing that's how he was taught to preach.

Personally, I like to "struggle" with a text all week.
 

Joseph Scibbe

Puritan Board Junior
Speaking from the little preaching experience I have my optimum schedule would allow me to spend the afternoons all week studying for preaching while reserving the mornings for private reading and meetings. I would "practice" the sermon on Friday afternoon to ensure that it makes sense when I would preach it. Again, I have far less experience than most people here so take their advice first.
 

Jar1979

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Jeff,

He didn't write them on Sunday mornings but on Saturday nights. Also, he didn't write them out in full but preached from outlines. Usually, on Monday he wrote out the sermon from the day before to be published. (Or depending on which source you read, on Monday he edited the notes of a stenographer who took down what he spoke the previous day.) Remarkable, huh?

Rick Davis
The Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
On second thought, Rick, would you please provide some citation in evidence that Spurgeon did in fact prepare his sermons that way?
Something from an official biography, for instance?

I'm remembering now having seen Spurgeon sermon manuscripts for sale, and it does seem unlikely that something like that could have been jotted off on a Saturday evening.
Where did you read that this was his method? (a polite question, mind you!)
 

Jar1979

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Wayne,

No problem. This is from W.Y. Fullerton's biography, chapter 10, "Spurgeons Sermons":

Mr. Spurgeon's method of preparing his sermons is not to be recommended to others who are without his gifts. Generally he had a number of friends to see him on Saturday afternoons, and after tea he would frequently conduct family worship with them. They all understood that they must leave at seven o'clock sharp. Then, as he used to say, he began to get some food for his sheep. Sometimes the Sunday morning sermon came easily, and in an hour or two he had completed his preparation, having his notes written on half a sheet of ordinary notepaper, possibly overflowing to the other side of the sheet. The fact was that he believed in preparing himself rather than the sermon, and, as he wrote so much, his power of accurate expression was exceptional. The Sunday evening sermon was generally prepared on Sunday afternoon.

Lewis Drummond, in his biography on Spurgeon entitled "Spurgeon Prince of Preachers", chapter 6, Spurgeon's Preaching and Writing Ministries echoes this account and adds further supporting content.

Just to add fuel to the fire, he prepared for Sunday evening on...Sunday afternoon! Whoo!

Blessings,

Rick Davis
The Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
One of my old pastors told the congregation that he prepared his Sunday morning sermons during his Sunday morning showers. Frankly, it showed.

I struggle for hours on a sermon and come nowhere close to preaching like Spurgeon. If he really did things in that manner, WOW!
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
I do not have the gifts of Spurgeon. But, I already knew that. My prep doesn't always look the same, but there is a certain rhythm. I start on Monday, reading the text and jotting down whatever comes to mind. On Tuesday I read, research, do word studies and try to come up with at east a general outline. Then I sit with it, coming back when I can; praying and thinking. On Thursday I usually have a first draft (a somewhat detailed outline). On Sunday morning I spend an hour with it.

I struggle for hours on a sermon and come nowhere close to preaching like Spurgeon.

Struggling with it isn't all bad, brother, but with experience you may come closer!
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I prepare my fourth grade Sunday school lessons the night before. Does that count?

Seriously, I don't work on those lessons earlier in the week because I tend to teach better when the prep work is fresher. That may be why Spurgeon did his sermons that way. But a whole sermon? That's unusual giftedness indeed.

Related question: Didn't Spurgeon fairly often preach twice on Sunday? What'd he do then?
 

Reformed Roman

Puritan Board Freshman
Spurgeon was one of a kind for sure..... but I'm sure there are plenty more like him in this world. He gets the publicity, but I'm sure God has graced many men like him. Nonetheless it's great to see he could be blessed in such a way.

and I'm curious as well... if he preached twice on Sunday, that would make it twice as remarkable. I'm sure he could prepare some after his first sermon though.

I've had a few times where I had to make a sermon within a couple hours. So surely Spurgeon could do it.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Rumination. Rumination. RUMINATION! I read the text in its context too many times to count during the week, and try to get a solid structural outline in my mind. I dwell on it; it pops in my head a various times (that's when I jot down what comes to me in a notebook or whatever piece of paper is near - often it is the homiletical outline). On Thursday I will read the insights of others and try to dwell on them. Friday or Saturday I will piece it all together in an outline. I don't write it out, nor do I "preach it" before hand. (I do go over it again and again in my mind all week ... even as the outline might change, etc.) This process goes for both sermons.

As for Spurgeon, I imagine his "non-preparation preparation" went something like this: he had some idea of what was coming the next week, or was struck by a particular devotion reading and ruminate/meditate on it throughout the week - not fully developing it until Sunday morning.
 

goodnews

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Jeff,

He didn't write them on Sunday mornings but on Saturday nights. Also, he didn't write them out in full but preached from outlines. Usually, on Monday he wrote out the sermon from the day before to be published. (Or depending on which source you read, on Monday he edited the notes of a stenographer who took down what he spoke the previous day.) Remarkable, huh?

Rick Davis
The Fellowship of the Word
Cincinnati, OH

Hey Rick,

Yes, that is remarkable. I will say that I take an extensive outline to the pulpit myself b/c I don't like to read my sermons (I'm not saying there's anything wrong reading sermons). I only read the points that I want to make in an exact fashion. I also like to do at least two hours of overview on Sunday morning, and often will make a couple of minor changes during that time. I like for the points and illustrations to be fresh on my heart and mind. But, I still "struggle" with the text all week.
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
George Whitefield was effectively the same type of preacher. The point for them was deep study in earlier days of their lives that feed the ability to preach spontaniously on a text later on.

That said, men like Spurgeon, though a great preacher, are not exemplary in their sermon preparation. I'd say the majority of pastors do not even come close to having the skill set to be able to do their preaching ministry like Spurgeon, and they shouldn't try. In Spurgeon's Lectures to my Students he talks about having 8 thoughts at once while preaching. I'm sorry, but that's just beyond the average, ordinary pastor's skill set by about 7 thoughts.
 
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