Sermon prep books are plentiful—so plentiful, in fact, that it would be nearly impossible to read them all and still have time to prepare a sermon for the coming Sunday! Ryan Huguley’s offering into the subject matter, 8 Hours or Less: Writing Faithful Sermons Faster, lays out a plan to attacking sermon prep for a few hours each day, Monday through Friday, along with an additional hour Sunday morning before delivering the lesson. The concept is simple, but will not fit everyone’s personality. Some find it difficult to do a little here, and a little there, as Huguley suggests. Still, his recommendations can be stylized to a preacher’s individual habits, making for a more efficient use of study time.
Young preachers who have yet to find their footing may benefit more from Huguley’s 8 Hours or Less than veterans who have developed firmly established routines. I could have used this book fifteen years ago as I struggled from week to week wondering, “What will I preach on Sunday?” I would personally rearrange and combine some of Huguley’s daily tasks so that they are not stretched over the full week, but the idea of setting deadlines for each task would have helped a great deal.
After defining what a faithful sermon is, Huguley breaks his schedule down into six areas: “Build the Frame” on Monday, which involves prayer, deep textual study, consideration of commentaries, and the actual building of the frame; “Open the Door” on Tuesday, inviting trusted co-workers in Christ to give feedback on where you plan to go with the sermon; “Sweat the Intro” on Wednesday, crafting an introduction that will capture the congregation’s attention; “Land the Plane” on Thursday, focusing on the conclusion to the lesson; “Fill in the Frame” on Friday, fleshing out the outline with illustrations and applications that show the people the relevance of God’s Word in their lives; and “Finish Strong” on Sunday, which includes additional prayer and final edits to your notes or manuscript.
Huguley recognizes that this method, which works for him, may not work for everyone. “So eat the fish and spit out the bones,” he writes. “If you find that something I’ve recommended does not work for you, don’t use it.” There are some good suggestions, and some worthwhile encouragements, but it is not likely that everything in 8 Hours or Less will fit your style.
[Disclosure: Moody Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book to Handling Aright in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed belong to the reviewer, and a positive review was not required by the publisher.]