Thursday, September 02, 2010

FOR PREACHERS ONLY

If you are not a preacher, don't read this.  (Ah, I bet you read it now!)  Let's talk about sermon preparation.  Many won't need these words.  I write specifically to those who do.

I've gone through a few phases of sermon preparation and have no idea what the next one or two...or three...will be.  Getting to preach in the Church of Christ is more fascinating than I earlier imagined.  It is a tremendous rush of spirit to enter any opportunity to link God's Word with His listeners.

At first, fear severely gripped me.  Would there be enough lessons one could glean from the Bible to last at a place two years?  Three or five?  A mistake I made was to think of a good illustration and then fit God's Word around it.  This could be called clever speech as God has intimated.

A significant problem with this approach is one has a limited resource of stories "if" God is not supplying new ones week by week. 

But something happened.  I saw myself in others who were using the same approach.  I didn't like it.  It felt shallow.  I realized in that transition that the Bible carries its own weight.  It doesn't need me to dress it up for the ball.  It will move the hearers. 

It is at this point I was able to move from pages of notes to scarcely any.  This isn't about how many notes one uses nor is it about how many are the right amount.  It is about confidence in the scriptures.

Now...something I felt earlier still remains.  Fear severely grips me.  What if I don't hear Him well?  What if He leaves me at the pulpit all by myself?  I beg of Him not to leave me up there alone.  It is a terrible fear of mine to be saying many words which have no content or backing from above.

I would encourage any who need it to trust the Word of God.  Let it have its shot at the people.  Tell them about how those scriptures tie in with Jesus....John 5:39-41.  Of course we want to deliver with power.  Such isn't in intense voice levels but is clearly in reference to the Holy inspired words of Jehovah.

Shed the insecurity of how you will do.  Take on the mantle of how He had done and is doing.  An incredible example for me personally is Rick Atchley.  Rick simply walks through the Word and relays it message after message.  You may have another favorite.  Study them.  Note what seems to cause their message to stick.  God uses all kinds.  We are fortunate to be included in the mix. 

For you?  Do well.  You are valuable.  You have it in you (the Spirit of God) to accomplish beyond your personal skill.  Therefore, trust Him.  I don't think you want to preach sermon outlines.  I think your people want you to tell them what God is up to!

4 comments:

newheights said...

great advice. thanks.

Anonymous said...

It might be worthwhile to remind the Church that it cannot presume upon grace, and then beat up the outside world as though they were inferior, or worse. Nobody is changed this way, and only the self-righteous could ever think otherwise. God's kindness and patience is not extended so that we may presume upon it. The purpose of God's kindness and patience is to bring about repentance.

How can people forget about such a great salvation? When the Church reaches a point where only condemnation of outsiders remains, then they have forgotten their own salvation, and they need to be reminded of the depths of love extended by our God who, while we were still sinners, died for us. We must never forget such a great salvation.

The Church must be a beacon and a the light to the lost, held high for all to see. God elevates on a lampstand those who shine that light to guide his children home. But when love feasts turn to rock-throwing sessions, then God will remove its lampstand; and the congregation will age and die as it implodes because nobody new may see and come.

It is one thing to put up with the weak, but we should not put up with the whims, arrogance, callousness, and self-righteousness of the strong. The Church is not an exclusive club, or none of us could ever enter His Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a preacher, but I've seen exactly what you're talking about when it comes to using the Word to prop up illustrations. It does come accross as shallow, and it leaves the church feeling starved or unfed. Could we have contributed to this type of preaching by getting overly excited about hearing "so and so" and this rally or that conference, ultimately making them the show? I'm fascinated in recent years about hearing those who humbly and simply walk through the Bible as you mention and how beneficial it is.

Jay

Greg England said...

Is it okay that I read this, being an ex-preacher?