Most believe that sermon preparation and delivery are the most rewarding aspects of their profession.

A survey conducted among Protestant ministers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota included this question: “How important do you consider the weekly sermon? How much time do you spend in its preparation? Do you feel free to discuss controversial subjects in the pulpit?”

All who answered this question considered the sermon to be of utmost importance. Some placed it second only to handling personal crises in the congregation. Most pastors agreed that preaching the weekly sermon was their opportunity to strengthen, renew, and enable the believer. They also saw it as the time to arouse the unconverted and those who lack spirituality and faith in Christ.

“My most important duty in speaking,” one pastor wrote, “is to equip the saints, giving them a feeling for life, lifting them up.” Another said it was the chance to proclaim, to teach, to motivate, to give hope, and “to build a fire under people.”

“The sermon is my one opportunity to give a logical presentation of the faith without interruption,” said one pastor. “It may contain the only ideas and insights people hear about their faith.” What is the basis on which sermons are prepared? Showing how theology and the teaching of the Bible can change and improve everyday living is the method most pastors use in sermon preparation. “It must be more than theological; it must be practical,” several said.

But the pastors were divided over whether controversial subjects should be discussed in the sermon. “The sermon should basically be God’s Word and not controversial issues,” one pastor wrote. “Lay people need time to grow spiritually according to their needs, not to deal ...

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