Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

My Typical Week

Some of you might be interested in what a typical work week looks like for me, at least as it relates to preparing my messages for Sunday.  So here it is – the basics of what I do and when I do it.

Monday is a day for meetings and catching up on administrative items.  I plan the week, set necessary appointments, reply to emails, etc.  Typically I do not look at the scripture I will be studying until Tuesday.

Tuesday will also have meetings.  Our pastoral week date1staff will meet to discuss ministry development, pray for needs in our church, discuss some book we have been reading together – things like that. By the afternoon I will read through the passage that I will be studying several times, just to get a feel for what the author is trying to say.

Wednesday, I will begin to avoid meeting with others and begin to spend extended time studying.  Usually, I will write out the passage of scripture in my own handwriting.  This helps me focus on every word better than if I just read it carefully.  If I am studying a New Testament passage – especially from the epistles – I will diagram / outline the passage to make sure I understand the context and emphasize what God emphasizes – according to the proper grammatical structure.  I will make a list of key words from the passage and begin to run all the cross references using those words throughout the Bible.

By Thursday, I should have a pretty good understanding of the text, and I will begin to organize my thoughts as to how all the individual pieces fit together to form one main thrust for the message.  It is from this process that I decide on the title of the message.  I have an 8’ white board in my office and it helps me to write on the board the main points of my message and make sure that they all fit together and support the main theme.  I do a lot of writing and erasing on Thursdays.  By the time I leave on Thursday I usually have a final plan for what the sermon will look like.

My goal for the week is to have the sermon notes completely finished by noon on Friday.  When I come in the office in the morning, I type all my notes – arranging them and all the scripture cross-references into their final form.  If I can do all that by noon (usually I do) then I have Friday afternoons free to catch up on other things like visits, calls, my blog and things like that.

Saturday is the one full day off I have and I won’t look at my notes at all.  I will wake up early on Sunday (6:30 am) and go over my notes to make sure that they are fresh in my mind before I go to church.

I never practice my sermon ahead of time.  I make sure I am comfortable with the material and what I believe God wants us to learn that week, and I am conscious of the time required to communicate all that material, but I never script or practice what I will say beforehand.  In total, I probably average about 20 hours/week on Sunday’s message, however, if anyone ever asks me how long it took to prepare a message I usually reply “26 years!”  (That’s how long I have been saved – and all of my life’s experiences contribute to the end result!)

That may be interesting to only a few of you out there – but if you are one of the few, I hope that it helps you in some way.  I love what I do!

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Very interesting! I like the fact that you take a complete day off from studying.


Hey Jeff! Thanks for the insight into the week, work, and ways (or schedule?) of a Pastor. Of course, I tried to alliterate as you guys all seem to like that kind of stuff. ;-) (I like it too as it helps my really bad memory.)

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Well, I haven’t listened to you that often, since you went to America in about the same time when I got saved (I got saved on December and you went in February, I think). But I found your messages very interesting (especially the messages of the spring conference in Albania). The one thing that keeps ‘bugging’ me is that how you choose the passage in the Bible for the Sunday services. Is there any general rule that you keep a particular passage instead of another one, or do you just get it ‘by chance’??? GBU


Hi Marsida! No, there is no general rule – I spend time praying and reading regularly and when I am thinking about preparing a message, I try to understand the need of the audience and then find the appropriate place in the scripture that speaks to that need. Typically I will teach through a book of the Bible and we study whatever the next passage of scripture has for us. When I have a conference to teach at – like the one I did last March in Albania – I pray about the series of messages and try to make them link together into one continuous theme. Hope that helps! Thanks for listening!


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