During my service of ordination to the ministry, Dr. Cal Guy quoted the words of Jesus to Peter: “Feed my lambs”; “Feed my sheep”; “Feed my sheep.”
He then summarized by saying that this does not mean “warmed-over mutton three times a day.” He emphasized that one must not only study the Bible and pray, but also love and know the needs of the sheep if he is to feed them.
As a seminary student, I was introduced to the books of Andrew W. Blackwood, professor of homiletics at Princeton. His book Planning a Year’s Pulpit Work made a significant impact on my thinking as I began to give serious consideration to the task of being a “feeder of the sheep” over which the Good Shepherd had made me an undershepherd.
It dawned upon my mind that the Holy Spirit did not have to wait until Friday night or even Saturday night to impress upon my heart what the Lord intended for the sheep to receive on Sunday.
As this truth became a conviction, I became convinced that the sheep would probably receive a greater variety and much better quality of messages if the “shepherd” did some looking ahead rather than just waiting for the agonizing “inspiration of the hour” that might not come on Saturday night.
A prayerfully prepared program of preaching helped to organize my study habits and made significant some events, articles, or truths that otherwise would have escaped my notice. It is easier to accumulate fresh illustrations when one has a good idea of what he or she will be speaking on for the next few weeks.
With a planned program of preaching, it is possible to have greater assurance that the specific spiritual needs of the congregation are being met. Dr. J. B. Weatherspoon taught that every sermon should have one central aim and that the aim is determined after a need has been discovered and defined.
As pastors get better acquainted with their congregations by personal visitation and counseling, and as they study the conditions in their communities with an awareness of the world conditions that affect us all, there is no limit to the spiritual and moral needs that they should seek to meet.
As good mothers work to provide balanced diets for their families, good pastors should give careful attention to the spiritual diets they are “dishing out” to their congregations Sunday after Sunday.
Each sermon a pastor preaches should be born out of a personal experience with God as he or she seeks to meet the needs of the congregation.
These abbreviated manuscripts and outlines are only to be used as a guide. If the manuscripts in this volume can be of assistance, we will thank the Father and rejoice in each pastor being a better undershepherd of the Great Shepherd who encouraged us to feed his sheep.
—T. T. Crabtree, formerly pastor
First Baptist Church
Spring field, Missouri