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In seminary we committed ourselves to studying one hour for each minute in the pulpit. It seemed only right.
When we got to our first church, however, we learned that unwittingly we had also signed on to handle office flow, plan worship, visit hospitals, lead weddings and funerals, and keep committees on track-not to mention "saying a few words" to assorted classes, clubs, and social occasions. Oh, I nearly forgot, we're also supposed to find time for our families.
Our hour of study for each minute of sermon? Unfortunately, most of our congregations want sermons longer than three minutes.
Here, then, for the overextended preacher, are some all-purpose sermon stretchers. Use these, and any sermon, no matter how short, will begin to expand to the fully desired length.
1. Stretch one idea into a three-point message. Studies have shown that after hearing a three-point sermon, most people remember only one point. So why waste two perfectly good ideas on the forgetful? If you have time to think of only one point, make the most of it, like this:
I. The Lord
III. To Save Sinners
This automatically frees you from two-thirds of your preparation time. And by expounding on the word or two of each point (see Strategy 5), you'll easily have a sermon of acceptable length.
2. Read your chosen text from the King James Version. This inevitably necessitates explaining such curious archaisms as "bowels of mercies," which adds significant time to the sermon. Reading from the King James also gives the opportunity, if you need to fill more time, to digress on the history of Bible translation, the Textus Receptus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
(An alternate approach: Read from the Amplified Version. That way, reading even four verses becomes a mini-dissertation.)
3. Sprinkle Old Testament references throughout your message, asking people to turn to them. While you are waiting for people to find the verses, valuable seconds are ticking away. Maximize this strategy with back-to-back references in ...