How Much Time Should Be Spent On Sermon Preparation?

One of the questions I get asked from time to time by fellow Christians is, "How long does it take you to prepare a sermon?" Among themselves, preachers will often compare notes on the same subject. Lifeway Research did a study of how pastors spend their time. The most interesting part of the study was the amount of time pastors said they spent on sermon preparation. A graphic showing the results for mainline and evangelical pastors respectively is below:

Sermon Prep 2

How long does it take me? As long as it takes. I don't say this at all because I don't like sermon preparation. In fact, I love it. I say, "As long as it takes because I've always found sermon preparation comes quickly some weeks, and come rather slowly other weeks. On average, I would say 10-12 hours a week…not counting any time spent putting together multimedia and on top of foundational research I do before the series starts. If you throw that in…I'm probably around 14-16 hours per week. I've spent as little as 5 hours and as many as 35 hours on one sermon. Despite what you may be thinking…the 5-hour sermon had nothing to do with a time crunch. It was one of those where God just delivers most of it right away (on Wednesday for me)…it's just in your heart and flies out of your fingertips. That sermon was on stewarship from Matthew 6 called, "More than Money." It's one of my favorites to preach to this day. The 35-hour sermons? One from a series I did on Revelation, and another my very first Pepperdine Keynote back in 2003 on Joseph and Potiphar's wife. Most of the time, it's the good old routine 12 hours or so.

Here's the question: How long do you think it SHOULD it take? If you preach, how long does it typically take?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Pastor of New Vintage Church in Escondido, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on numerous websites, including:, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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