I Hate Writing Sermons

~ the confession of a seriously ADHD sermon writer ~


The sermon wrestles you as you wrestle it.
Against me, the sermon usually wins. And I hate it.

I don’t mean that the sermon wins in a sanctified sense where the gospel confronts me and I’m changed by amazing grace. No. More like, I hate writing sermons because I am defeated by the whole process.

I don’t write my sermons out.  To do so would be to re-write the entire Bible along with the entirety of human existence and all the possible objections to everything I would say in the process of the previous two. It is exhausting because it is exhaustive.

You could say I’m lazy. I would.

I hate writing sermons because my mind snaps back and forth between possible roads of explanation, possible ways of understanding impossible grace, ways of objecting to and twisting God’s gift, all the ways of living the new life in Christ. Where does one start? Where does one end? Why begin writing? My mind grinds to a halt because I even start. It’s hopeless.

You could say I’m undisciplined. I would.

I hate writing sermons because it is easy to write a bad sermon. But who wants to do that?  I need a set structure and process. But then I forget to use it, or there are all these exceptions, or this text doesn’t really fit, or I’m bored with that structure, or… You get the picture.

So you could say I’m unfocused.

I hate writing sermons because I refuse to think of discipleship as “paint by numbers” where you just proclaim another law for people to follow, telling them what to do week after week.   I want to actually pay attention to the text and mine the experiences of my life and the life of others, their hopes and fears and dreams and terrors (all of which I actually suck at). AND THEN I have to listen to the Spirit for how redemption is at work through this particular text for this particular people.

I probably hate writing sermons because my standards are too high, my expectations are too high. (Is that comforting, arrogant, or both?)

Yes, I probably should end this confession by remembering that God works through all things, takes what little we have to offer to bless others. And I know and believe that.  And I know that results of a “good” or “faithful” sermon (by whatever metric or understanding you want to use) can only be seen by God.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still hate writing sermons.
It just means I love all the other stuff more.

(This post it is part of my “
20 for 20” post where I write for twenty minutes a day for twenty days.  So these are quick thoughts as I push out my ideas and practice writing.  See my explanation here.)

3 Replies to “I Hate Writing Sermons”

  1. This is helpful. I appreciate you having fun with this, and yet being very genuine. I think sometimes having permission to be angsty at something, in this case writing sermons, is refreshing and hopeful. Appreciate it.

  2. Thanks for sharing Geoff! I also struggle with sermon writing and I’m not even ADHD.

    I have found the Homiletical Plot to be an excellent help for me because it focuses on the movements of the sermon over district set of steps to follow. Maybe it will be useful to you as well.

  3. Thank you, Geoff. You just “normalized” the fear and frustration that comes with putting together a message for your flock. (Note I didn’t say “write a sermon”…) And normalizing struggles reveals the heart of an empathic person, a must for a good pastor. My bet any pastor who is honest with themselves will agree, whether vocally(“oh yeah, baby!!”) or more covertly(“um, well, I guess that’s why this takes work..”). Good words to share.

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