Why I Wrote "8 Hours, Or Less"
My first book, 8 Hours, or Less: Writing faithful sermons faster", has been out a few months now and the response has been very encouraging. One of the questions I've been asked most frequently is, "Why write a book about writing sermons faster?" That's a great question and I always want to be careful to qualify my answer by reiterating that I in no way want to diminish the importance and serious nature of sermon preparation. There is nothing in ministry I take more seriously than my handling of God's Word. I would never do anything to shortchange the process. My goal is to help preachers better think through their process, so they actually end up with a more faithful sermon in less time.
Time is one of our great commodities right now, so here are the four reasons I wrote 8 Hours, or Less:
1. I want to help preachers better steward their time.
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (emphasis mine) At least one implication of that verse is that we should be good stewards of how we spend every second because we're going to give an account. It sounds very spiritual to spend 30 hours in sermon prep, and while you may be giving 30 true hours of blood, sweat, and prayer to the process, it could just be that we're not working hard and are in fact actually wasting time. My goal is to help preachers focus attention, clarify objectives and best steward the time God gives us.
2. I want to help preachers have more time for other responsibilities.
Preaching is certainly one of our primary callings, but preaching is not the sum total of pastoring. We're also responsible for counseling and providing care to those in need. We're called to time spent in prayer, leadership and if you're a church planter, or solo-pastor, about a million other responsibilities other than just Sunday's sermon. Pastor's are expected to do all these things well AND have a well constructed, clearly communicated sermon each Sunday. That's a lot of pressure and I want to help lift any of that burden I can by helping buy pastor's back some time from their sermon preparation.
3. I want to help preachers have more time for their families.
One of my chief motivators in writing this project was not just helping pastors buy back time so they have more capacity for ministry in the church, but also so they have more capacity for ministry in the home. When pressure mounts and increased responsibilities roll in like a summer storm, it is often time with our families that gets shortchanged. If shaving one hour off your sermon prep gives you one hour for a daddy daughter date, or give you more mindshare the next time you take your wife out, the early mornings writing in my kitchen were worth it.
4. I want to help remove some of the time-related pain of sermon preparation.
My first few years of sermon preparation were a mess. I had no formal training and had given very little thought to how to best structure a week of preparation. Through a few months of trial and error, I tried to bring more intention to what I was doing and learned an invaluable lesson: Much of the pain of sermon preparation is the result of an inefficient, ineffective, unhelpful process. Sermon preparation will always have a sting to it. God's Word is confronting our own sin each week. It's mentally and emotionally demanding. It can be tedious and time consuming. This is why we should do all we can to eliminate any of the factors that make it more demanding than it need be.
More time sitting at your desk does not always guarantee a better product in the pulpit. My goal is not to shortchange sermon preparation, but to help preachers get the most from it. I hope and pray 8 Hours, Or Less accomplishes this goal. If you haven't had a chance to check it, you can PICK IT UP HERE and let me know what you think!