Did I just stick Jesus onto a Christ-less sermon, to make myself feel better? Or did I actually preach Christ?
There are six questions for me to ask myself, with bite to them, which help me to focus as I prepare. They’re a test. If I can’t answer them simply, then I need to do some more work.
One of the great gifts that teaching at seminary gave me, was that I was forced to say out loud, in a copyable manner, the route I take from text to sermon. In fine detail. It forced me to become conscious of what I knew and did.
If this bible hasn’t been opened, I haven’t exposed my heart to God for myself that day, however much I’ve opened the bible for and before others.
If I write in my diary, ‘Sermon prep,’ and block in 2 hrs, I make progress, but it feels vague. I don’t really know how I’m doing, as I move towards Sunday.
It’s not hard for our folk to be fed by superb bible teaching from around the planet. Then they come to church on Sunday, and it’s plain old us.
It’s the old adage: if they’re not actually learning, then I’m not teaching – whatever else I think I’m doing.
The translation, which my friend so enjoyed, and which has its funny side, was distracting him. A passage which should humble him before God’s throne, was making him giggle because it felt quaint.
By the time I put my pen down I have rarely felt so flat and uninspired in what I had planned to say. Do you ever feel like that about your sermons? Thought so.
Even though I allocate the same total number of hours, I do not use them in the same way. Experience has taught me where I can improve. So here are eight ways my sermon prep has changed over time.
Your car mechanic will say if your wheels need balancing. Your doctor will tell you if your insulin’s out of balance. Who’ll spot if your preaching is off-centre?
If we become more attentive to our decisions to act and to the feedback, we can improve more carefully.
Artists and musicians produce dazzling and original works from a limited source. We have a dazzling gospel – so how come it produces such predictable preaching?
When I illustrate, I’m looking for echoes of plausibility, and they are most plausible when they are fresh.
Our illustrations often don’t really work. Here are 11 danger signs.
When you hit on a secret sauce by accident, it’s worth jotting down what went into it, so that next time you can make it on purpose.
I do wonder, sometimes, if we go too hard with our plans too early, and the result is that we feel trapped by them.
The Prime Minister’s ‘frog-in-the-throat’ moment will be something that any preacher will know. It feels as though your entire speaking system has gone on lockdown. So what to do?
How can we be culturally ‘invisible’, so that people can hear what we’re saying with a minimum of interference?
I took the passage to a local coffee shop, and watched the customers. What does this passage have to say to 21st century urbanites, most of whom gave up on the god-idea years ago? How does this prise open their questions, address their fears and hopes, shift their distracted focus onto Christ?