When I was pastoring a church I preached largely to the same people each Sunday. Obviously, it had to be a different sermon. That’s the challenge of a pastor: to bring a fresh message from the Word to the same faithfuls. The upside is that it keeps you studying and growing, besides stretching your creativity so that the faithful won’t find you boring.
Now that I am no longer a pastor of a church, I get to preach in different churches. The temptation for me is to choose my “better” sermons and recycle them. After all, as someone said, “If a sermon is not worth repeating, it is not worth preaching in the first place!” The downside is that it can make a preacher lazy; you don’t study as much anymore, so you don’t enlarge and grow. Furthermore, recycled sermons will not come out as fresh as when you first prepared and preached it to the original group.
I believe the same applies to seminars. Something that I am doing much more now than I used to when I was pastoring a church. Usually it will be a seminar from among my repertoire that you find listed in the website’s Seminar page (http://empoweringchurches.my/seminars/). But just as often I will be asked to do something that’s not in the list. My first reaction would be, “Oh boy, more work!” But, inevitably it will turn out to be better for everyone, including me.
It’s good for those at the receiving end because they get something fresh; not something that I just pull out from the files. It will be material that I have taken time to research and study, thought and worked through from almost ground zero. “Almost”, because I can only teach on areas that I am fairly well versed in; I will not teach on a subject that I have little understanding or experience.
Furthermore, as I am preparing to teach this new material I will inevitably be thinking of the people or the church, and the context of their experience. In other words, I tailor-make the content, structure and style of the seminar to them.
The bottom line for all of us preachers and teachers of the Word is that we need to keep ourselves spiritually fresh so that there is a freshness when we preach and teach, even if we might be reusing a sermon or seminar material. If a sermon or seminar doesn’t excite you anymore, even if has a proven track record, don’t preach or teach it. It won’t come-off in the same way—it won’t take off. We are short-changing the people who have come to listen to us.
If I were to repeat a sermon or seminar material I would rework it; throw out the not-so-useful stuff and add in new and better material. I would ask the Holy Spirit to tell me what I should emphasize for this particular group of people or church. I would try and tailor-make it for the people who have so graciously invited me to minister to them. Most of all I want to honour Jesus who called me to this awesome service!