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Why Pastors Shouldn’t Preach More Than 40 Weekends A Year

Posted by David Whiting on 10/20/16 6:49 AM

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If you're a Lead Pastor, chances are you want the quality of your church's teaching to be as excellent as possible. Likely, you are the Senior Pastor because you have a strong teaching gift, or the strongest teaching gift on your teaching team. However, I believe that if you are preaching more than 40 times a year, your effectiveness may become hindered.

I was a Lead Pastor for 15 years, and I found that if I taught more than 35 to 40 weekends a year, many things began to suffer. Depending on your other responsibilities and the giftedness of those who step in to teach for you, perhaps you can lower it even to 30 times a year. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but I recommend preaching no more than 40 weekends a year.

Here are some reasons you should limit your Sunday preaching.

1. You need regular breaks.

The week-after-week routine wears you down, even if you don’t always recognize it. A break makes you better. You will be refreshed. You will be ready to preach again.

Regular breaks make you a better Pastor.Tweet: Regular breaks make you a better Pastor. http://ctt.ec/9hKeO+ via @VanderbloemenSG

When I first became a Lead Pastor, our church wasn’t large (275 people), and I felt like I only had one other option to speak. So I spoke about 45 to 47 times a year. As our church grew, I grew more comfortable with preaching less as our team got larger. My last year as a Lead Pastor, I spoke 35 times. That was the least amount of times I had ever preached in a year, and I believe I was more effective than ever. The regular breaks made me better. It allowed me to plan further ahead on sermons. And every time I had a week off (or more than a week off), I came back more refreshed and ready to teach. Regular breaks are good for pastors.

2. Your people need breaks from you.

You may not want to hear this, but the more often your congregation hears you speak, the less effective you eventually become to them. Remember how your parents told you something over and over but when another respected adult said the same thing, you seemed to hear it better? That can be true in preaching, too.

Taking breaks keeps your voice fresh with your people. I’ve had more than one conversation with attenders of churches with world-renown preachers. I always say, “It must be amazing to hear _______ preach every week.” And each time, their enthusiasm is less than I anticipate.

No matter how great of a preacher you are, your voice can get “old” to your people.Tweet: No matter how great of a preacher you are, your voice can get “old” to your people. http://ctt.ec/9hKeO+ via @VanderbloemenSG

Regular breaks allow your voice to stay fresher to them and your impact to much longer and deeper. Your people need breaks from you.

3. Your people need to learn from others.

You long to be fully balanced in your preaching, but you can’t help it – you have specific things that are important to you that are repeated themes. You are in a specific stage of life. You have favorite theological perspectives that you come back to again and again. I’ve noticed that my default applications are often for people in the same stage of life as I am.

When I had young children, my teaching applications often assumed you had young children. Now that I’m almost at the stage of an empty nest, I noticed my applications often aren’t about parenting young children anymore. That isn’t good. I had to work harder at applying it to people in different stages of life than I'm in. Allowing others the chance to preach on weekends will improve the applications and increase the learning of the church. They need to hear from others and learn from them. You shouldn’t be the only preaching voice they hear.

4. You need to develop other communicators.

You are not doing your church any favors if they are totally dependent on your teaching gifts alone. You need to develop other communciators. Taking breaks allows you to do that. Allowing others to teach on weekends is a fantastic leadership development opportunity.

5. There are other areas of church that need your leadership.

The more you are speaking, the less you can give yourself fully to other leadership responsibilities in the church. The next Sunday looms over you as a constant shadow that you can’t escape. Having regular breaks allows some weeks for you to focus on others areas that don’t live under the tyranny of the urgent – like staff development, long-term planning, and pastoral care.

6. It will give you more time to develop as a great preacher. 

On weeks I don’t preach, it allows me more time to listen to other great preachers and learn from them. I have more reading time to grow in leadership, my spiritual life, and my understanding of the Bible and theology. The way to improve your preaching may be to take more breaks from preaching so you can do things to improve that you don’t have time to do on a weekly basis.

Lead Pastors, make yourself a better preacher by preaching less. It could be better for you and for your church.

How do you seek to improve upon your teaching and preaching gifts?

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Topics: Senior Leadership

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