Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Wonderful Dread of Preaching

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.


Gilbert Kerrigan said...

Hey Terry,

Thanks so much for commenting on my blog. It is great to have some of the big guys come over and visit a little guy like me in the blogging world.

I look forward to hearing your messages at the Workshop next year.

tim rush said...

I love the title, "wonderful dread". That is so right. It is so fun and scary at the same time.

I enjoyed reading Kerrigan's blog comments too. But made me laugh when I thought about Amherst. We were so small that when a trucker and a farmer wore the same shirts one day I joked that we had a praise team. And I don't think most knew what a praise team was.

I really enjoy the work here, but sometimes I miss that dreaded wonder.

Anonymous said...

To hear you talk about how you study for your sermon and preaching God's word is so exciting to me. I have heard you speak so many times and every time you have such passion and compassion for the Lord and the topic you are speaking about it, it is obvious that it is from the Lord. Your passion and enthusiasm is contagious. I always anticipate greatly how God will use you and I am never disappointed. (As I've told you before, you are way better than Max :) May God continue to richly bless you and continue to fill you with more of what He wants you to share. I love you today too friend :)

JD said...

What a neat way to keep up with what you've studied... I get frustrated with my lack of retention when I read something, and then spend hours trying to find it sometime later.

If God is not working when we preach, then I quit. It just isn't in me to lead God's people - it is in Him... He gets all the glory. And if the sermon is sucky, it is usually because I have allowed myself to become distracted away from the glory of His presence.

Thanks for sharing!