Tuesday, November 02, 2010

On Sermon Writing, Preachers, and WorkingPreacher.org

by Eric

I love preaching. I'm no expert, but I can't get enough of it. I enjoy the preparation, the writing, the risk-taking, the contextualization, and the performance apects of preaching a sermon. I also enjoy listening to them. Yes, you're right--I am a nerd.

For me, the preaching of a sermon is an incredible moment--when the influx of the Holy Spirit that takes God's Word, and through the hose of my mouth, douses the congregation with Law and Gospel. It never gets old. Yep--still a nerd, but a passionate one.

Since I've started internship, the writing process of the sermon has also become a great joy (although sometimes a great stress, too). This is what I've found works for me:
First, I always carefully read the text well in advance. I sit with the text, and it becomes part of me--a lens through which I see and live that week.
On the Tuesday before I preach, I do exegetical and commentary work, filling up pages and pages in a notebook.
On Wednesday, we have our local pastors text study, and have some fantastic discussion. Not only do I get to hear new and creative ways to preach a particular text, but it is a safe place where I can share and test ideas. There are some phenomenal theologians in our group.
On Thursday, I begin writing, but it's mostly brainstorming...and mostly just in my brain.
On Friday, I write. And hope to have a finished draft...that's happened once so far.
On Saturday, I finish the sermon. If I don't have plans and am not exhausted, I practice a bit.
On Sunday, I get to church a few hours before service starts and read through my sermon, making a few last-minute changes, then preach!

Essential to just about every step in this process is WorkingPreacher.org. The commentaries are always on point, and are directed towards preachers. Next, Sermon Brainwave is incredible--in the form of a podcast, we are essentially welcomed into a text study between (at least) three Luther Seminary professors. Then, if that conversation is not enough, we are invited to join online text study groups, of which I take part. Then, if you need inspiration, there are many Preaching Moments videos, giving helpful tips and and stories about the craft preaching.

Thanks to my supportive congregation, text studies, WorkingPreacher.org, preaching classes, and a lot of practice--preaching is evolving into more than a passion and a calling. It is becoming a skill. I don't mean to brag (because, let's be honest, I'm very much still a greenhorn in the art of preaching), but I look forward to honing this skill as my year as an intern goes on.

After speaking with some of my classmates, preaching for us interns has proven to be both a joy and challenge. As we get to know our congregations (and ourselves) better, we look forward to discovering how God will speak through us this year. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the preachers and preachers-in-training out there--keep up the good work.


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