Friday, February 5, 2016

It's OK to repeat sermons

A few years ago I was invited to preach in a church. I had preached there about five years earlier. It was a larger church with two morning worship services. As I considered what to preach I kept feeling drawn to a sermon I had preached there previously. It seemed like the right message to address some issues I knew was going on in the church. Since I felt so strongly that this was the message I decided to go ahead and preach it again. After all, I reasoned, no one would remember this sermon after five or more years.

No one mentioned they remembered the message after the first service. However, when the second service ended a teenager came to me and asked if I had not preached that message previously in that church. I was busted and by a teenager no less.

That was not the first time I've repeated a sermon in a church nor will it be the last time. If a few years has passed since I preached a particular message in a church I don't feel it will hurt anyone if I preach it again in that same church.

  1. There are new people in the church who did not hear it previously. This will be a new sermon for them.
  2. I'm sure the church has sang the same songs since I was there. If repetition is OK for the music it will also be OK for the sermon.
  3. People's lives change. The message may have a greater impact on them the second time they hear it because it addresses an issue that is current in their life. That issue may not have been a problem the first time you preached the sermon.
  4. If a message is worth preaching once it should be worth repeating.
  5. When we re-read a book we often discover things we overlooked before. The same thing happens when people hear a sermon for the second time. They will hear something they didn't hear before.
Sometimes you don't plan to preach a sermon in a church the second time but find you are. A few weeks ago I was scheduled to preach in a church. I pulled out a message that I thought was applicable to the church and planned to preach it. Just prior to the service I was placing my Bible and sermon on the pulpit when I noticed I had preached that message just a couple of months earlier in that church. I always write down the church's name and date when I preach a message in the left margin of my sermon notes. I had looked but failed to see this church's name before leaving for the service. I had taken only this one message with me.

When I began the message I mentioned to the church that I had preached it in that church a few weeks earlier but I felt there was still a message there the church needed to hear. While the main body of the sermon was the same, I used some different illustrations and made a slightly different application than when I preached it before. Only one person commented that she remembered the message but noted that it was different this time.

This is yet another reason it's Ok to repeat a sermon. Most sermons will have more than one application. Although I was preaching from the same outline and from the same text, the Holy Spirit led me in a slightly different direction from the previous time I preached it. Most likely, it spoke to different people than the first time I delivered it.

You may feel that you're being led to repeat a message to your congregation. If so, do it. We can trust God to know how to lead us in our pulpit ministry. There may be people there who did not hear it the first time. There may be people there who have different needs this time and need to hear this message again so it can speak to those needs.

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