The Happy Dilemma of a Growing Preacher

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  • I am preaching through the book of Ephesians. This past week, however, I chose to pause my study until the new year and preach something that directly pointed to Christmas.

    Seeing it was the staff’s last week in the office before the holidays, I decided to pull of file and preach an old sermon.

    I landed on a Christmas message that I preached five years ago. It was a seven-page manuscript. At this point, I labor to keep my manuscripts between five to six full pages. So all I had to edit the sermon down one page, set it to memory, and pray myself hot for preaching.

    Or so I thought.

    The more I read the manuscript during the week, the more uncomfortable I was with it. I reread several commentaries. I thought through new insights. I sought clearer ways to make my points. With Sunday fast approaching, I had spent as much time with this sermon as one I produce from scratch.

    I tried to ditch the sermon altogether but could not. So I wrestled with a manuscript I preached five years ago. The exegesis did not change. I used the same outline. My theology was the same. But something was different.

    It wasn’t until Sunday night – after struggling through the sermon twice – that I figured out what changed. Me!

    My biblical convictions have only grown harder over the years. But the way I explain, apply, and illustrate has definitely changed. As I grow older – and grow up, I hope – certain aspects of my preaching style has is inevitably changing with me.

    The fact that I can’t just grab any sermon from years past and take it to pulpit makes preparation more difficult. But it is a happy dilemma.

    A growing child has to get new clothes. And so do growing preachers.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.