5 Questions on Preaching with Eric Douglas
Pastor Eric Douglas has been married to Amanda for 10 years and they have three children. He has been the pastor of Moreland First Baptist Church in Moreland Kentucky since 2011 and has been preaching for over 10 years. He is also adjunct instructor of religion for West Kentucky Community and Technical College since 2011, previously adjunct preaching instructor for Clear Creek Baptist Bible College. Eric is also author of the book Blessed Assurance Find him online at his blog There By Faith and on Twitter at @FEricDouglas.
Q1: How long does it typically take you to prepare a sermon?
A: I’m probably more complicated on this answer than I should be (so be ready for a long answer!), but I honestly believe that sermon preparation is cumulative. I began studying the Bible seriously in about 2004, so my sermons are the sum-total of all of the hours I’ve put in since then. Maybe it is similar to an athlete playing a game. He has not just practiced the previous week; he has put years into developing his skill! I believe a preacher should have the ability to spend hours in study (if necessary) to dig out the meaning of a tough text and also to be able to stand up and preach without prior notice if the occasion arises.
With that said, the amount of time I spend on actual exegesis varies from week-to-week. I rarely spend office time on illustrations and application. I get those by keeping my eyes open during the week and from conversations with others. I generally preach series through books, so much of the context and background study has already been accomplished on a normal week. Often times, the structure and main points of a text will jump out to me rather quickly. Sometimes, though, it takes more work. I have spent as little as 2 hours and as much as 20+ hours studying, with an average time of probably 6-7 hours per week. Sermon prep is like good BBQ: it is ready when it is ready! (I told you it would be long and complicated.)
Q2: What do you ultimately want a sermon to accomplish?
A: I have one goal when I preach: make the gospel as clear as I can.
Q3: What are one or two big mistakes people often make in preaching?
A: The biggest mistake I see in preaching is when a preacher preaches a text as a list of things to be done rather than explaining how Jesus alone has already done those things for us. To state it a different way, the mistake is when the preachers makes the text primarily about the hearer rather than the Savior.
For example, I am currently preaching a series through the book of Job. I believe it would be a mistake to approach this book as “How we should handle suffering.” Instead, we must approach the book by looking at Job’s suffering and see how it points us to Jesus Christ, the ultimate blameless sufferer who suffered in our stead.
Q4: How do you handle the gospel invitation and preach toward it?
A: I’ve changed in this area over the years. Previously, I would take the “Make a b-line to the cross” approach where I would tack on the gospel to the end of the sermon. Now, I understand that I only have one message (i.e. the gospel) that must be clearly preached from every text. Therefore, the entire sermon is about explaining the gospel and is interwoven with application throughout. The “invitation” then is for the Christian to see how the gospel applies to and affects His life this week while for the non-Christian it is to repent and believe the gospel for the first time.
Q5: What advice would you give to preachers doing pulpit supply?
- Don’t leave a mess for the pastor to clean up by stirring up some controversy or by majoring on opinion.
- Be sensitive to the culture of the church. Wear a tie and preach from the KJV if that is what the church is used to.
- Preach Jesus.