Pastor Charles Anderson has begun a pretty amazing thing here at University in his Sermon Research Team. Every week, people are invited to consider the scripture and theme of the sermon and offer research, insight, personal testimony, illustrations, anything that might help others to understand the message. It is actually a fairly complex process. Notifications go out weeks in advance inviting people to participate so that material can come in on time for work on the sermon.
I am preaching next Sunday so I get the use all of the material that has come in for the week. Six people submitted material, about two to five pages each. I must say two things: First, I am impressed at the quality of material. Charles is pretty specific in his instructions asking, not for forwarded emails and Google searches, but personal experience. People really listen. Most of the material is truly personal reaction to the text and personal narrative and examples that resonate with the scripture. Second, in addition to being impressed, I am a little overwhelmed. This is a completely different way to work on the sermon and I am not totally sure my brain can handle it. After reading and internalizing all this material I am off kilter in my typical means of sermon writing.
Typically, I read a text and take is apart mechanically, looking for anything in language or Biblical context that speaks to me. Then, I meditate on it a bit, searching for some way to hear and then looking for some way to articulate what I hear in the passage to those I will share it with. All of a sudden, I have a bunch of other voices. I have different ways of hearing, different ways of understanding, different ways of sharing. And now they are all in my head. And I am not sure I can hear. Or maybe I need to listen differently.
I still have week to prepare. Let's see what the Spirit does with my muddled brain.
Preaching in Challenging Times
3 months ago