We use this expression often. Whenever we’re making a purchase, we want to be sure we get the most value for our money. Most of us will turn the decision over and over in our minds, looking at it from every angle to make sure we’re getting everything that we can out of our purchase.
Now, we’re having this same conversation about our time. Where and when do we invest our time so we can get the best “bang” from the investment of our time? When can get the most done, have the most input into the outcome, or make a real difference? Is every meeting necessary? Is every committee a good use of our time?
Have you ever applied the question to your ministry? Have you, as a pastor, given serious thought to everything you’re involved in to determine how you use your time to best accomplish your ministry goals and produce the greatest kingdom impact on your community?
If you undertake this exercise, be warned. The results will be embarrassing. Our church did this several years ago and we were shocked at how much we planned, did, and expected of our members that made no real difference in anyone’s life. In fact, we found out we were the most anti-family organization in town! We wanted the students at the church one night, the parents at the church another night, and children yet another night – we weren’t giving our families any night to stay home and be a family together. Needless to say, we cut a lot out of our church calendar.
But what about your life and time as the pastor of a church? If you do a serious analysis of your time management, I’m confident you will come to this conclusion: nothing is more important than preaching.
Now, I know you’re thinking I’m stating the obvious. Every pastor knows there’s nothing more important than preaching. True. If you ask any pastor about the priorities of their ministry, most will have preaching in the top two or three things they must do during the week. Yet, if you follow them around during the week, you’ll see something entirely different. Most pastors’ weeks are crammed with meetings and interruptions. Time for sermon preparation is constantly pushed back later and later in the week until the pastor is too tired or too rushed to give the sermon their best efforts.
The result is a sermon no one remembers. Worse, most pastors leave Sunday mornings disappointed not to have given their best efforts.
Let me give you another way to think about your time and ministry impact.
The only time you will see most of your congregation is Sunday morning.
The only time most of your congregation will hear from you is Sunday morning.
Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule? This rule says twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work in any organization. How about the 90/10 rule? The ninety ten rule says ninety percent of your people will hear you only during your sermon time…a little less than ten percent of your week.
Let me give you another stat. Let’s say your church averages 200 in attendance on Sunday morning. If you show up unprepared to preach, you waste 200 man-hours of time. That’s over eight days of life!
Few churches understand the depth of thinking, study and prayer required to preach well. They have never understood. The crowds constantly pressed Jesus to respond to their desires and
needs. Jesus finally had to hide in the wilderness to get away from them. A.W. Tozer, the great preacher of a past generation, had a man sitting outside his door to stop anyone from interrupting him while he prepared to preach.
Most of us won’t have that luxury, however much we might like to have it. However, that doesn’t stop us from knowing the most important investment with our time is preaching and preparing to preach. Every Sunday, we get one shot. We can’t afford to waste that.
Mike Glenn is Senior Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in suburban Nashville, Tennessee, and a Contributing Editor of Preaching