A young preacher, Gilbert Kerrigan, asked if I would make a comment on his blog regarding sermon preparation. I really hadn't thought much about the process. As I wrote concepts, God's real participation and interaction became apparent. Thus, I share with you my response to Gibert hoping it will encourage you to risk the vulnerability to believing our Living Lord participates in our lives. Here's my response.
Admittedly, mine may be way out there, but it’s what actually goes on and what works for me. I used to be thrilled when I finally thought of next Sunday’s sermon and sick as soon as it was over. What’s left to study….to say? Now things are much different.
I study during the week to learn. If I haven’t learned something about God and His Kingdom during the week, I have nothing to say. I study to learn for me. As I go through that process I listen for Him to speak through society: i.e., a song on the radio, a comment by a waitress, a conversation with a friend over coffee. God will, somewhere along the week and every week, speak to me about what He needs to be addressed the next week.
Then I go to a computer file called LIBRARY where I have logged topics/scriptures referenced in the maybe 150 books on my shelves. I have hundreds of entries and if I need to recall what I studied about “fathers” I can go to the LIBRARY and it will tell me the six books and page numbers to recall what I’ve read earlier…often years earlier.
I study that material and wait for Him to speak about what He’s thinking. Often what I preach does not come from flesh and blood…it comes from ideas He gives me. Ideas….that’s as close as I can come to explaining His speaking to me. Too, I’ll go ahead and say, He always gives me the trump point on Sunday morning when I’m shaving or showering. We always meet in the bathroom.
I don’t rehearse the sermons because mine are never done until I’m done delivering them as He may change a point along the way. I meet with a few men at 7:30 every Sunday morning for pray for an hour over the morning ahead. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I THINK I DO ALL WEEK.
I fully trust Him to stand with me and say things with the level of Life He intends. It’s a scary, sickening privilege to get to preach. I have a love/dread of the role. I’m enamoured with the thrill of it and sick with the thought of missing my audience….every time I preach. The pressure still makes me cry about it every week.
Now, I’ve let you in on something here. Don’t tell anybody.