June 22nd, 2012 | 3 Comments »

As a congregant you have a significant role to play in helping your preacher preach better. In the last post, we talked about time and the effect lack of time can have on sermon preparation. Think about this: After Seinfeld went off television, Jerry Seinfeld decided to retire all his old stand-up material (watch the movie, “Comedian”). He spent the next year crafting a new act. After a year, Seinfeld had 30-minutes worth of material.

ONE YEAR! 30 MINUTES!

Guess what? Your preacher does 30 minutes every week!

Could he or she speak shorter? Probably. But here’s my point: Many of us have been in church so long that we’ve forgotten or never understood what we were asking of our preacher in terms of the speech act itself. Your preacher, unlike Jerry Seinfeld, can’t simply use the same “material” over and over again and be effective. Read the sermons in the book of Acts. They are strikingly similar and mercifully short. Churches asks their minister to speak a fresh word every week and sometimes to speak multiple fresh words throughout the week. Hear me correctly, this isn’t a preacher complaining about his job. Complaining is fruitless. It is, however, one preacher asking you to help your preacher preach better by understanding what they are up against.

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June 21st, 2012 | 4 Comments »

Your preacher might be better if they could focus on preaching. It had to be said! Truth is, many churches require so much of their pastor that they hardly have anytime to prepare to preach.

Preparing to preach isn’t always difficult, but it is time consuming.

There’s language study, historical/critical review, prayer, devotional time in the text, reading, reflecting, constructing, importing creative elements, story-building, writing and delivery. Preaching takes time, so does visitation, prayer for the sick, staff meetings and leading, building use and facility concerns, other teaching responsibilities during the week, and hosts of other activities. Some preachers have to handle all these activities themselves, so it’s no wonder some preachers serve up yesterday’s leftovers from the pulpit. It’s easy to flip open the latest book and harvest 3 points here and 5 suggestions there, call it a sermon and go home.

 

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May 30th, 2012 | No Comments »

A sermon is not a sermon until you say it! And if you want to give a great sermon, you have to say it aloud to yourself before you say it to anyone else.

Having now written your sermon it’s time to get ready to speak. A sermon on paper is not much of anything. In fact, it’s nothing. Sermons don’t flow the same way essays, blog posts, and articles do. It’s written to be heard, not read. It’s personified.

The first time a sermon is spoken, shouldn’t be the first time that it’s heard. That’s why, in order to produce great sermons, you need to rehearse.

Every Friday afternoon, I walk into our hot, lonely, empty worship-center and rehearse the sermon – aloud. I want to hear what it sounds like out-loud. I want to walk through my body language. Where am I standing? When will I stand, sit, walk, and what motions will I use to aid communication. Though I’m essentially a teddy-bear on the inside, my height and frame can be intimidating to some. Plus, I don’t naturally smile a lot , regardless of what I’m feeling. Therefore, I want to be thoughtful about what my body is doing. It’s be rehearsing that I can bring intentional life and movement to the week’s message.

My Empty Room

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May 29th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Sermons are boring.

People fall asleep during sermons. The jokes exist for a reason. The best speakers in the world have hearers fall asleep on them. It’s happened to everyone from Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama to Andy Stanley, Tim Keller, and you. It happens.

But it doesn’t have to happen. And you can do something to make sure it happens rarely. What you can do doesn’t happen as much during delivery as it does during the writing process.

Good sermons are the product of good writing. But compelling sermon writing isn’t technical as much as it’s philosophical.

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April 4th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

In the previous post, I began making the case that preacher’s should ditch their points (or at least the way we usually make them). So if you decide not to deluge your audience with points when you preach, what should you do instead? It’s a good question. First, I must restate the simple fact that scripture does not come step-by-step, point-by-point. The entire canon forms one grand narrative. Scot McKnight’s, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, is an excellent source to help you unearth this truth. Therefore, when you and I decide to abandon the “points-preaching model” and adopt a more narrative form, we are not losing a sacred pedagogical tool; rather we are assuming (and it is an assumption), that teaching like Jesus taught is a better model. As a Christian, I assume that everything Jesus did, He better than anyone else did. Insomuch, Jesus should be imitated whenever possible.

So, you ask, what should we do then after we ditch our pitiful points preaching? My answer, “Do what the text does.”

Here’s how to get started:

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