Jun
26
2006

A Pastor’s Study Habits

I just finished listening to an interview [part onepart two] with Dr. Mark Minnick. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Minnick, he’s pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church here in Greenville, and he teaches several Seminary classes here. Several of my posts have referenced a recent class I had with him: Class Review, Part 1 and Resource File.

In this interview he is asked very pointedly about his personal study habits. Having heard many of his messages, his reply didn’t especially surprise me, b/c the fruit (i.e., his sermons) demonstrates much cultivation (study). However, it’s still pretty amazing.

Here’s his summary of a typical week:

Monday: His day off. But, he studies all day, generally (not sermon prep, just reading and relaxing). Sometimes he writes. If things go his way, he spends 6-8 hours at his desk.

Tuesday: His administrative day. Meetings, teaching at BJ, etc.

Wednesday: Almost the whole day is prep for Wednesday night.

Thursdays: Teaching, maybe a counseling session, but Thursday afternoon is typically blocked off for starting work on Sunday sermon.

Friday: “Nearly inviolable.” Study all day working on messages for Sunday morning and night. All day, all evening, almost ‘till bedtime.

Saturday Morning: His study continues in earnest.

Saturday Afternoon:  He (really) takes time off. Watches a ballgame, does something with family, etc.

Saturday Night: He tells his people, “you can’t die on a Saturday night!” He depends on Saturday evenings for final sermon prep. He quotes Spurgeon, who said “wouldn’t go to heaven on a Saturday night if he had to come back and preach the next day!”

Think that’s it? Nope. On Sunday morning, he gets another 3 hours of study and meditation before the first service. And, as time permits, he uses his Sunday afternoon to study some more for the Sunday evening service.

Amazing, huh? I suspect few pastors match that depth of study. In their defense, it should be observed that most pastors don’t have the time to devote that much time to study. They have bills to pay, a church to clean, ailing church members to visit, people to counsel, etc. Fortunately for Dr. Minnick, he’s been able to surround himself with a great church staff and other pastors who are able to oversee many of those responsibilities so that he has more time to study and preach.

Nevertheless, I think he’s a challenge to all pastors to study more. Earlier in the interview he talked about the importance of being simple in preaching. Clear, direct, concise, simple. And, he said, it takes a lot of work to present complex truth in such simplicity. Dr. Bob, Sr. said, “Simplicity is truth’s most becoming garb.” Dr. Minnick goes on to explain that to be able to present truth so simply, you have to have really grasped it yourself, and that requires a lot of study and meditation and saturation. I think it was Morgan (not sure about that) who said he liked to “lie down in his text and soak in it.” I suspect Dr. Minnick does a lot of “soaking.” And it shows in his preaching, which is truly saturated with the Word. A preacher speaks for God only to the extent that he presents God’s Word. I think Dr. Minnick is onto that.

One other highlight from the interview. On books, he says….

  • Don’t let your conscience bother you about not finishing a book.
  • The best thing about many books is the title. Once you get that and the introduction, you’ve got what you need.
  • Many an author gets his point across in the first two chapters, but his publisher wants 200 pages. You can stop after the first two chapters.
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