Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I Have a Love/Hate Relationship With Preaching

I'm done with week 1 of a 3 week series. I thought it went pretty well. The service itself was really powerful and moving - Brian and the team did a great job coming around the theme with some really great elements. We were scrambling last week because the original element that was planned for the weekend kind of collapsed at the last moment. So the "Take My Life" song that Brian did, visual arts piece by Rachel, and the time of confessional prayer in the midst of the sermon were all late additions. But God used the time beautifully. There were a lot of tears and a lot of people doing some serious business with God in the midst of it all.

Preaching weeks are always tough for me because the time is not built in to my normal schedule - so it tends to be over and above. But I really love it. The fact that we're launching ServErie to the church in about 10 days doesn't help the schedule either. But in the midst of it all - I've been reflecting on some of the ups and downs of preaching - here is my initial list.

Things I really enjoy
  1. The deep study of God's word in preparation
  2. Crafting creative ways to help present the truth in ways that will be interesting to the people listening
  3. Praying through the cleansing process and getting myself ready to be the messenger
  4. Imagining names and faces of a wide variety of people who attend Grace and trying to consider what they need to hear about the topic at hand
  5. It forces me to write what God is teaching me
  6. Wrestling to bring meaningful 21st century application from the ancient scriptures
  7. Reading and listening to other great preachers to get ideas on how they have dealt with the text at hand
  8. Getting away from the office to Panera to read, study, and write - usually on Thursday/Friday.
  9. Looking out from the stage at faces when people are really getting it.
  10. Sensing the Spirit of God using a broken vessle like me to get the word out.
  11. Saying things in a way that sheds new light on a subject, or brings a new angle, or is so honest that people leave saying "I can't believe he said that..."
  12. Challenging religious people that it's not about religion
  13. Using planned and spontaneous humor to break down barriers in the congregation.
  14. Teasing Kim from the front - she's always so cute and funny about it.
  15. Utilizing other creative elements to bring home the point. Our teams are so amazing.

Things I Struggle With

  1. Editing the sermon after it's fully written. One of my profs compared it to dismembering your own child. (This past week's first draft was 13 pages - I had to get it down to 6 [and actually only achieved 6 1/2 - I was a little long, right Brian?])
  2. The preparation process. I'm not a great orator - and so it takes me a lot of time and effort to get to the final product.
  3. The post-sermon adrenaline drain. Sunday afternoons are brutal after a weekend of preaching - I usually either get a migraine or shuffle around like a vegetable the whole day.
  4. Going from manuscript to speaking notes. It's always my last step - I'm usually exhausted by then - and It's a bit of a guessing game as to which sections I'm going to remember and which I'm going to need some reminders and which ones I want to flat out read so I can be sure to say it exactly right.
  5. The authority that's been entrusted to me by God and the church. That they have entrusted me with bringing the word of God to bear - do they know me? I know me and I'm not sure I would let...
  6. The empty pit in my stomach during dry spells of creativity and inspiration. There's always at least one moment of "I don't think this is going to come together."
  7. Trying to draw out points that are applicable to both long-term christians and those who aren't yet convinced of Christianity. There is always representation of the full continuum at any of our services.
  8. Feeling like the week is being consumed by stuff other than sermon preparation.
  9. The attacks that come during the preparation process - constant thoughts of "you're not spiritual enough to say that, people will be offended by that, you probably shouldn't go there because you're not a good enough example...etc."
  10. When people sleep... it's a big downer. And we can see it - seriously - you think you're hiding it but you're not - we can totally see you and know exactly what you're doing...


puremotif said...

how could anyone have possibly slept through that?

Danielle said...

i love when you preach.

on a technical note, your blog is annoying me because only the title shows up in my feed reader. can you remedy that?

Mindy said...

people in the congragation can be VERY distracting and they don't even realize it.Your sermons are great. don't sweat cuz you know God's gonna get his message across just follow His promptings

Dave said...

sorry, i hadn't slept in a week and the warm milk i had just purchased at the meta cafe really sent me over the edge.

childrensministryandculture said...


You've been incredible effective in the pulpit. God is using you, bro. Glad to be led by you.