Don’t Pack Too Much in Your Sermons

You can’t cover everything about everything in every sermon.

The vacation ended, and my normal responsibilities at the church resumed. I prepared a sermon and then delivered it on Sunday. After reflecting upon it and critiquing various elements of it, I was drawn back to our road-trip. We preachers tend to stuff our sermons so full of content that it can make for a rough trip.

Recently my family of eight packed into our mini-van for an early spring vacation. When I say “packed in” you may be thinking in terms of seats. I mean we were packed in. The trunk was filled to the top; the floor had shoes, books, bags, and blankets. The front seat was full of distractions for the little kids as well as entertainment for the adults and big kids. But when we got closer to our destination (10 hours away), we went to Costco to buy food for the week. In this we were now officially, completely packed in. Kids balanced cartons of eggs, coffee, vegetables, and milk while we finished our course.

The vacation ended, and my normal responsibilities at the church resumed. I prepared a sermon and then delivered it on Sunday. After reflecting upon it and critiquing various elements of it, I was drawn back to our road-trip. We preachers tend to stuff our sermons so full of content that it can make for a rough trip. Consider the parallel. Early in the week I prepare an outline and structure (packing list). Soon I’m writing and building on the homiletical bones (initial packing). Through my zeal and love for the content the paper usually fills up pretty fast. The car is nearly packed. However, as I stew over the passage and think about illustrations and implications, I always add more. A paragraph here, an illustration there, and before you know it—the sermon’s van is fully packed.

But this is not all. In the moment, fully engaged with delivering the sermon, I am firing fresh arrows out of my preaching quiver. This is like a stop at the outlet mall or gift shop. Of course we can fit in some new running shoes for dad, new jeans for mom, or sleds for the kids. The car and the sermon are packed.

As preachers or Bible study leaders, this is good and important reminder: We can’t pack everything into every message. Let me give you a few reasons why and then how we can pack it more effectively.
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