How is it possible to produce two new sermons week after week, year after year?

Thanks to a course given by Dr. Andrew W. Blackwood when I was a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, preaching has been a growing pleasure and challenge through the years. The course, called “A Year’s Preaching,” taught the value of planning ahead and gave suggestions and structures for organizing the preparation of sermons. This course, together with Dr. Blackwood’s practical concept of the “homiletical garden” in which one plants sermonic seeds and allows them to grow without interference but with proper nourishment, liberated me from a fearful question that beset me in seminary—namely, how is it possible to produce two new sermons every week year after year together with Bible studies for mid-week services and occasional special talks? Actually, it has turned out as Dr. Blackwood predicted; the problem is not having something to preach but having opportunity enough to preach the messages that demand expression.

I divide the year into two periods, nine months and three months, for purposes of planning not only my preaching but also the entire program of the church. The period of nine months is divided into three quarters—October through December, January through March, April through June. Planning begins with an overall theme for the year for the whole life of the church. This theme may be expressed as an apparent need, such as “Consolidation,” ‘Implementation,” or “Evaluation.” It may come in the form of a challenge: “Every Member an Evangelist,” “Total Involvement,” “Mature Christianity,” “Our Worldwide Mission,” “The Witnessing Church.” Or it may come in the words of Scripture or in a familiar slogan, such as “To Know Christ and to ...

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