Can you preach unprepared, only guided by the Holy Spirit?

Even though there are not many yet, but there are preachers who do not prepare. If they are old, they teach the younger that it is unnecessary to prepare. Supposedly, by training you prevent the Holy Spirit from transmitting the message to the Church. I am definitely against this approach and this teaching for the following reasons:

God is a God of order

Everyone in the church of Corinth began to just stand up and say whatever he wished and when he wanted. This brought great disorder to the saints. And if anyone came from unbelievers, he/she might have the impression that those were not children of God, but a bunch of madmen. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote that “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33). After planting churches on the island of Crete, the apostle Paul left Titus there to organize what remained to be ordained. Just as the other things have to be set in order, so must be the preaching, for this is one of the most important activities of the church. Spiritual food is provided through preaching. What would we say about a housewife who did not make plans for cooking: would not make a list of ingredients nor prepare them; and when they sit at the table, she would say it will come from the Holy Spirit? I would think this woman had lost her mind, and I would be right. Let’s take a lesson from this…

Order involves planning

If pastors and preachers want order and the church to be given the highest quality spiritual food, then they need to plan well. They will gather together, discuss what the church’s problems are, what its spiritual needs are; and they will make a plan of sermons in order to meet these needs. The apostle Paul wrote that preaching must bring spiritual edifying, encouragement and doctrine.

Lack of planning brings lack of results

The wise Solomon once wrote,

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5)

This refers not only to material things, but also to spiritual things, including preaching. When preachers do not care about the needs of the saints, they do not plan nor prepare sermons, their messages, and they wrongly think to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Their sermons do not bring any kind of edifying or teaching, are unreal and boring; and the saints do not get any kind of spiritual edifying. There are immature Christians who, no matter what you give them, will always blame you for not growing spiritually. But today we are not talking about those who like to stay as little babies… We are talking about all the saints in the church. If the sermons are not well planned and prepared, the saints will suffer, and the work of the church will decrease.

What would happen if we were to act the same in regard to other ministries in the church?

I ask the preachers who teach others it is not necessary to plan or prepare for preaching. What about other works in the church like singing, building, helping, etc? If you believe this about the most important work of the church, what do you think will happen if the church choir does not gather during the week, prepare anything or rehearse, but instead assume that on Sunday when they come to the holy service, the Holy Spirit will give them the most suitable songs without having ever learned them? Why does the church committee need to discuss the issues, directions and work ahead if you think that the Holy Spirit can give this guidance without our involvement? It is not right, brethren, to think like this. The Holy Spirit teaches us to live in order, be diligent, plan and prepare.

When you are prepared, you can adjust your plan according to the circumstances

In the epistle of Jude, it is written,

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4) (NASB)

Did you notice, he had a plan to write about our common salvation but, because an urgent need arose, he obeyed the will of the Lord? He immediately wrote in the epistle about what to do with false teachers and prophets who come to demolish their faith. The letter of Jude, like all other epistles, is nothing but a written sermon. Notice that these sermons have been well thought out and well planned.

No apostles ever taught that you can come before people unprepared

Nowhere in the Bible is this written. I can’t understand where those promoting this found such a teaching. In reality, the apostles have always taught that we must prepare ourselves well and earnestly. Here is what Paul wrote to Timothy,

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:12-16)

Isn’t this a justification for lazy people?

I had the opportunity to teach the Homiletic course several times in many countries and teach many preachers how to prepare and preach messages. I have seen lazy preachers who do not want to learn because it would show their laziness. They prefer to say that they are satisfied with their preaching and that the Holy Spirit reveals to them what to preach rather than repent. No, dear ones, the Holy Spirit does not like lazy and idle people. God teaches us to pay close attention to ourselves and the gift within us, do our job well and with all responsibility, and not to be careless. May the Lord help us do so.

Translated by Liza Birladeanu.

Read this article in Romanian.