Monday, March 2, 2009

Sermon Preparation basics

You'll notice the 'Sermon Prep' tag has been added to the tags list. I'm going to try something this week, to see how it goes. I'm going to blog through my sermon preparation.

Now, not all of my sermon prep will go online. Certain things need to be understood:
1. I pray, substantially, about what passages to preach
2. Those passages are already on my calendar, some of them through October
3. Sometimes I spend all week to prepare and then preach differently on Sunday
4. I am not an expert sermon planner. Buy Dr. Carter's book Preaching God's Word if you want expert guidance.
5. I will not always follow the exact same methods or share the exact same stages along the way.

This is to accomplish cracking open the door to what I do with my time and allowing me a way to share some of what I don't preach. Why don't I preach it all? Because we have nursery workers keeping kids while I preach. I've been there, done that, and, while I respect the need to expound and explain the Word, there's only so long kids can go in one room. I realize that small kids are typically very routine-oriented, and that nobody I know bases their weekly routine around what the church schedule looks like, so I know those kids are pushed pretty hard to get through the 2-3 hours that are Sunday School and church.

I have also 'over-preached' a passage before. By this, I mean that I have made a couple of different errors. One is too much information. Preaching is not just a process of imparting information, but I've done that. I've finished a sermon and realize all that happened was I had shown off my historical knowledge. The other error I've made is to over specify application. I still believe that preaching requires guiding the audience towards applying the truths presented, but I have preached through a passage, specified its application, and it's gone 'Splat.' Why? Because, for instance, I've just gone through the text in James about the wealthy needing to pay their workers fairly, and the whole crowd are non-management workers. Of course they agree with that. But the next month's business meeting found us refusing to up the payment to the people cleaning the church, leaving it at the same level it had been at for 10 years. I had talked up what businesses and managers should do, and missed the way that passage applied to the people I was with.

Since I usually overload on time by overloading on information or over-targeting application, I try to keep my preaching closer to 25-30 minutes instead of running longer. Is that how all preachers should? No. Some situations support longer services, some preachers are very good at application. The key is to know the text, know the way the Lord made you, and then preach as driven by the Holy Spirit.

1 comment:

  1. Other books exist to learn about preaching, some written by very good preachers.

    But I've only read Drs. Carter, Hays & Duvall. So it's the only one I'll mention by name.

    I'm mainly learning to preach by trial and error. Most of the basic information comes from classes, but a one-size approach doesn't really work.

    Best class on preaching I took was Dr. Roy Buckelew's History of Preaching. Learned the methods and tools used by generations of gospel preachers, from Chrysostom to Graham.


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