Have you ever had one of those weeks where it’s a constant struggle just to come up with a few words to type on the screen? When no illustrations are coming to mind, no stories are coming to mind, no interesting insights are coming to mind, when you just don’t feel creative, what should you do?
I had one of those weeks last week. It’s tough because Sunday is coming whether we are feeling creative or not. Preaching is no easy task and the work of sermon preparation is difficult even when you are feeling creative.
Sunday came and God showed up like He always does. Over the week I learned some things about working through weeks like these. I pray that these things will help you when you’re in a creative funk like I was.
5 Things Pastors Should Do When They’re Not Feeling Creative
1. Take a Break
Instead of prolonging your frustration, get your mind off of the sermon. How many times have you been doing something totally unrelated to sermon preparation when an idea hits you square in the forehead? It happens to me often. So go for a walk, look out the window, take a 10 minute nap (there’s actually a lot of benefit to this), make some coffee, etc… The point is: take a break from your sermon preparation by doing something totally unrelated.
2. Lay Face Down Before the Throne
Weeks where you don’t feel particularly creative can be vital to you realizing how much you must depend on God to give you the words to say. Instead of simply bowing your head and praying, lay face down on the floor and be silent. After you are focused on Him and only Him, begin to ask Him for guidance. Ask God to push you out of the way and for Him to prepare the sermon. Ask Him to work through you. Thank Him for His faithfulness. Once you’ve done this, get back to writing your sermon and see what comes. Be patient and be expectant. He will deliver like He always does. After all, when you are feeling creative, it’s all Him anyway.
3. Read the Text and the Surrounding Context Again
It may take you a few times to read through this in order for something to come to mind, but be patient with this. Don’t just read your focus passage for the sermon, but read the surrounding context. Think about other texts that connect with the same ideas and read those as well. After you’ve done this, you should have a few ideas to run with. God’s word is living and active, so be expectant that His word will speak to you. You’ve just gotta be listening (by reading).
4. Utilize a Whiteboard
I absolutely love using a whiteboard. Call me a nerd, I don’t care. There is something about getting my thoughts on a big board that helps me think. I can work through ideas, questions, and structure much easier when I can put them on a whiteboard.
Here are some of my doodles from last week when I was struggling to get through:
Utilizing a whiteboard helps me get my ideas out of my head. If you don’t already have a whiteboard, I recommend you get one and try it out.
5. Answer These Three Questions
What do you want the congregation to know?
What do you want the congregation to do?
What is one sentence that captures the point of your sermon?
If you spend the time in answering these three questions, the rest of the sermon will flow from it. Start with the text that you are focusing on this week and exegete that text. Then take the truth from the text and determine the answers to these three questions. From answering these questions you can begin to move forward and get unstuck.
In Every Moment
Understand that God is the one who will give you the message that you are to preach. It is not up to you being super creative or super insightful. His word stands on its own. The Spirit is the one who will guide you in the process. He is the one who will give you the words to speak.
You do need to put in the hard work while writing your sermon as well as once you are done writing your sermon, however, don’t ever forget that it is not you writing or delivering the sermon, but it is the Spirit of God. He gets all the credit.
What do you do when you are stuck in your sermon prep? What do you do when you don’t feel creative? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you do.