Have you ever preaching a message and after felt like you had already said all those things you just preached a few weeks earlier? Or maybe you’re sitting down to write your next sermon only to find yourself staring into space because you feel like you’ve already said everything you know to say? It’s like it’s all running together.
Preachers like rivers, can run dry at times. Unless there in an inflow of inspiration and the water is replenished, things will dry up quickly.
Early on in my ministry, it was normal for me to preach about 50 times a year. Most of the reasons I did this were quiet unhealthy and selfish. I would use the excuse of not having someone to fill in for me. That was code for “the church will suffer if I’m not there and deep down I believe I will build the church, not Jesus.” Ouch.
Over the last few years, I have begun to take more and more time away from preaching. My goal now is to only preach 40-42 times a year. Recently, I took my longest break to date, having not preached for 5 weeks.
I really missed preaching, but my time not spent on prepping messages was put to use in other critical areas of our church. Here are the 5 things I did, and the 5 benefits you too would gain from taking an extended preaching break.
5 Benefits of a Preaching Break
1. I Worked On Other Projects
During my time not spent on preparing a weekly message, I worked on a few other projects I had been putting off due to time constraints. A few weeks before my break, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish with my extra time and I dove in head first, scratching them off the list one by one, as they were accomplished. A few ideas for you:
- Take time to write a How To eBook for a ministry in your church like “How To Do The Sunday Welcome”
- Work with your creative team to create a series of helpful devotional videoes
- Partner with another ministry in your church to help them work on a project
2. I Spent More Time on Dreaming
I don’t know what your weekly schedule is like, but mine are typically jammed packed. There’s not a lot of room to just sit, dream and pray about the future. I have to be super intentional about those times. With my extra built in time, I was able to get away from the office and spend a little more time on what the future could be like for our church.
3. I Spent Time Resting
One of the best benefits of this time for me was the extra time to rest. I had a little more space to chill during this time which was extremely beneficial after coming out of one of the toughest seasons of ministry in my life. Never underestimate the power of Sabbath. A few thoughts:
- The Church will never tell you when to rest. You have to choose it
- The Church will still be there if you take a few or a few off
- Jesus will build His Church. You just get to be along for the ride
- If you don’t rest, the ministry can kill you
4. I Spent Time Refueling
Soon, I’ll write more about the season of ministry we just came out of. It was brutal. Overall, God did some amazing things, but we have the scars to bring to show and tell. I needed time to refuel.
So I read a few more books, played a bit more disc golf, went fishing some, and spent a little more time doing the things that give me energy vs the things that take my energy. I also invested more time into being coached through some of the coaching programs I am part of, like this one that is really great.
5. I Spent Time on New Strategies
Systems and strategies are things I really enjoy doing. During my time not spent on prepping messages, I spent a little more time working on systems and strategies in our church. A majority of the time was spent revamping already existing systems and catching them up to our growing church. You could:
- Look at how you gain, train and release volunteers (I like this as a great help)
- Look at your strategy for how you appreciate volunteers and staff
- Make tweaks to your first time guest follow up system
- Ask, “what systems are broken that we need to fix NOW?”
6. I Spent Time Planning Ahead
One of the best aspects of time away from prepping a message is, you can get ahead. I was able to plan more in depth on some series we have been working on, planned ahead on our Christmas Eve Eve services as well as our Advent series. You could:
- Plan your preaching calendar a little further out
- Write your next message or two to get 3 weeks ahead
- Go ahead and start planning for Easter 2015
7. I Spent Time With People
Your calendar fills up fast with people wanting to meet with you or dealing with other people’s emergencies. But when do you get time to spend time with people YOU want to put on your schedule? When you’re not preaching. You could:
- Meet with a few pastor friends in your town
- Catch up with a few new people in your church you want to get to know
- Grab coffee with some ministry leaders in your church
Tomorrow I will show you can preach less, but still have a growing church.