Good news for preachers – God raises the dead

4

06/05/2014 by Chris Green

 

drybonesLast week was one of those ho-hum weeks in the life of a sermon, where there’s only one prayer to pray, and I prayed it with increasing urgency.

I did everything I should have done: sentence flow diagram (both Greek and English), translation comparisons, close observations, lots of observations, and the commentaries consulted. I prayed a lot, and talked about it with some others

There were some gnarly exegetical points, and some tricky issues of application, but come Thursday I had a publishable outline,and come Saturday lunchtime I had the full works: applications, difficulties addressed, and even a joke.  Just the one.

But I couldn’t nail the introduction, and that troubled me.  In previous lives, I used an introduction as a throat clearing exercise, like an easy way to get through the first fifteen seconds into what I really wanted to say.

For the last few years I’ve changed that  I’ve been working much harder on the introductions, and my method has been to take the main line of application and chuck it up to the front, with a question mark.  I want to raise the issue that the passage addresses, and put it in a way that people are hungry, desperate even, to find the mind of God.

So the fact I couldn’t nail the introduction flagged up to me that I wasn’t crystal clear on where the passage was driving, and that really niggled.  I tried several ways through, and I landed on one that would do – I hate it when I have something ‘that will do’, because it’s a second rate, passion-less concept.  But I couldn’t find the traction, the grip, the purchase that I needed.

I watched a podcast of a preacher I really admire to see how he began, and then I tried to write one in his style.  Flat as a pancake.

I got up on Sunday, still dissatisfied.  I tried out some more introductions,  I sketched out several on the back of an envelope.  Literally.

In the office of Sunday morning, half an hour before the service, I was sketching out another one on the back of an advert for a concert.

And the prayer that threaded through the week? “Lord, make these dry bones live.”

Which is pretty much the base line for any prayer a preacher prays, isn’t it? Our best thoughts, neatest application, sharpest asides, truest truths are nothing but filthy rags, cracked pots, and dead, dry bones. Our silliness is shown in that we only think that when we think our material is spectacularly rubbish.  On other occasions we are so blind we think what we have is half-way decent.

But God specialises in raising the dead.  His living, powerful Word will still address his people despite our awful inadequacy. And the more we believe in its sufficiency, finality, inspiration and clarity, the more he will honour his promises to do that.

God was kind on Sunday.  In the end, I took the simplest of all the ideas I’d thought of, and ran with it.  God spoke through his Word, and he used this weak preacher and my dead sermon to do that.

Be encouraged.

 

4 thoughts on “Good news for preachers – God raises the dead

  1. Am encouraged. Thanks, Chris.

  2. 2steps2heaven says:

    Amen! I need to try getting towards your method over mine. Presently, I wrestle with trying to get the introduction before I feel I can get the rest of the sermon written- which often means a very desperate pastor on their knees on Friday with not a single word written.

  3. John Wonnacott says:

    This is a great post Chris and subsequent feedback; hearing of others’ struggles makes me want to strive more as opposed to become complacent …press in and on!

  4. […] God raises the dead – even for preachers like Chris! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Publication of The Goldilocks Zone

Launch dayJanuary 18th, 2018
5 months to go.

Living as a Christian in the 21st century means we face constant battles to please God. That’s why I wrote ‘PURITY: Living to please God in an impure world – 15 daily readings in 1 Thessalonians.’

There’s only way to get it – by subscribing to my  email newsletter here.

Index

God, Suffering and Joy

A conversation between me (with cancer) and Michael (with Multiple Sclerosis)

Terms and conditions

This blog does not share personal information with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyse and optimise your content and reading experience. I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without my permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

I welcome your participation on the Ministrynutsandbolts site, and invite you to share ideas elsewhere on what you learn and read here. At the same time, I ask that you respect my intellectual property rights in the process.

You are welcome to link to my site or any specific post on my site, extract and re-post less than 200 words on any other site, provided you link back to my original post, or print my posts in any non-commercial publication (e.g., company newsletter, class syllabus, church newsletter, etc.), provided you include this copyright notice: “© 2017 Chris Green. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.ministrynutsandbolts.com.”

Please do not do the following without written consent: Re-post one of my posts in its entirety anywhere else on the Internet, use this content for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of my content, or alter, transform, or build upon this work.

If you have some use for my content that is not covered here, please contact me. If you would like me to do a guest post on your blog, email me at ministrynutsandbolts@gmail.com

Copyright does not apply to the titles of books, but transparency means I should own that the title of the blog is taken from the excellent ‘Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary ‘ by Aubrey Malphurs (Kregel: 2nd edn. 2009)

© 2017 Chris Green

%d bloggers like this: