On the Reuse of Sermons

Teresa Fry Brown hits on another important topic as she presents Charles Adams’ 9 suggestions to preachers found on page 164 and 165 of her book Weary Throats and New Songs. This one has to do with re-using sermons.

The book argues that we should not repeat a sermon unless we “filter” it. I have heard homiletics instructors argue over this topic. One of my homiletics teachers stated that you should never re-use a sermon. In this instructors mind, the sermon is so tied to circumstances and situations that it can not legitimately be used again in another circumstance and situation. Certainly there is some truth here. The vast majority of sermons are so closely tied to this situation that it cannot be used again verbatim.

However, as one of my other professors stated, if it is worth preaching once, it is worth preaching again. However that professor would agree with Adams, through Brown, who states that “new experience, new information, [and] new communication” require that the sermon be recast into the new situation.

In addition, sometimes God really gives you a powerful sermon, it would be, in my estimation, poor stewardship to never use the sermon again. We still read the “sermons” found in the Biblical book of Hebrews and yet it still speaks to us today. A great sermon can sometimes do that, but Adams reminds us that we must “filter” the sermon through the lens of the new experience that we find ourselves if it is to speak to the people in a powerful way.

So what do you think? Should we re-use the sermon? How do you make sure that the sermon is worth preaching now.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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