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5 Questions on Preaching with Zach Barnhart

Zach Barnhart is a preacher who lives in Knoxville, TN. He is available for pulpit supply. Learn more about Zach at his PSP profile.

Q1: How long does it typically take you to prepare a sermon?

A: I usually spend about 10-15 hours on my sermon prep. Usually 2/3 of that time is spent writing the manuscript, reading Scripture, and pulling from commentaries at the end, 1/3 of that time is spent actually “reciting” out loud my manuscript and adjusting in areas.

Q2: What do you ultimately want a sermon to accomplish?

A: As William Willimon sums up nicely, “Would Jesus have to be crucified to make this sermon work?” Our ultimate aim in preaching must be the glory of God through the person and work of Christ.

Q3: What are one or two big mistakes people often make in preaching?

A: A big mistake that preachers often make is not preaching Christ from the whole of Scripture. They preach about David and Goliath, for example, and chalk it up to a lesson about bravery and willpower to face the giant, not showing that really David has much to teach us about Christ, that He is the pinnacle of our sermon from every text. I also feel that many preachers overcorrect on contextualizing their sermons, whether through illustration or application, to the point that their hermeneutic no longer is driven by the text itself but by the culture. We must remember that it is Scripture that should shape culture, not the opposite.

Q4: How do you handle the gospel invitation and preach toward it?

A: I rest in the fact that God’s Word does not return void, so I feel no pressure to manufacture or facilitate any “closing the sale” with my preaching. Of course, I spend the last few minutes of my sermon attempting to summarize all that I’ve said and making the gospel message as explicit as possible, but I hope that throughout my sermon’s course that the “invitation” can be found in more than one place.

Q5: What advice would you give to preachers doing pulpit supply?

A: Pray for the people you are preparing to preach to. When I have done pulpit supply I have found myself so wrapped up in getting the prep right to make a good impression, or making sure all the details are in order, that I forget to pray for the congregation I will be with that Sunday. What a sweet moment we have in pulpit supply to engage and minister to folks we don’t know but we are united with in the gospel. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters!