I try to work on my sermons well in advance, sometimes as much as several years if it’s a topic or passage that I’m slowly trying to absorb. Right now, I’m several weeks ahead in the actual manuscripting of my regular Sunday morning sermons. That gives time for our CE workers to develop the materials for our sermon-based LifeGroups.
But sometimes I’m caught in a bind and I need an “emergency sermon,” just as a cook needs a handful of “emergency suppers” for those occasions when there’s little time for advance preparation. The secret is having a well-stocked pantry.
As I meet with the Lord each morning for my daily Quiet Time, I very often jot down devotional outlines and biblical observations in my journal. Today, for example, I saw something of the structure of Ephesians 1. I took a few moments to consider how that would look as a sermon. A very simple outline came to mind, and even a couple of illustrations. I opened a document on my desktop, typed in the material, and slipped it into my “emergency sermon” folder.
That way, I’m never caught on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon wondering what to preach about in a few hours. The sense of panic one gets without a sermon can gray one’s hair. There’s no need for it, as long as we have a daily Quiet Time in which the Lord speaks to us, and a folder marked “Emergency Sermons.”
PS – Also check out the most recent edition of the Preacher’s Sourcebook.