An odd competition of sorts exists among some pastors over who can spend the most time preparing sermons. Some of them literally spend over 20 (!) hours on each lecture. On the surface this might seem like a good thing; at least they will be prepared. However, is this truly good? Does it benefit the church body to realize that the pastor has spent hour upon hour getting ready to give his weekly monologue(s)?
I contend that it is not a good thing. The reason is that pastors are inadvertently giving the church the message that the bible is extremely complicated. This is why they have to spend hour after hour studying. This, in turn, sends the message to the folks in the pews that they will need to study for hours to comprehend scripture. The massive negative consequence in all this is that it actually discourages people from trying to understand the bible for themselves. They then just wait for the pastor to teach them on Sundays.
The real reason pastors spend hours preparing is that on Sundays what they are doing is giving a performance. They are expected to speak, uninterrupted, for an extended time. They are also expected to be engaging, interesting, and sometimes funny. This takes preparation.
If pastors were simply teaching an informal class they could spend far less time on it.
The irony of all this is that most pastors hope that their sermons will inspire the people to study scripture for themselves. However, their long sermon prep actually has the opposite effect.
Professional pastors: please resign right now. Your presence and actions are causing significant damage to the body of Christ every day. Quit, get a real job, and become a normal member of the flock. You will never regret your decision.
(This is post thirteen of 25 Reasons Professional Pastors Should Resign.)