So I’ve had a little time to process the last several sermons I’ve prepared and preached (wow, that’s a lot of unintentional alliteration). I’ve felt much more solid theologically – thank you, Dr’s A & C! And both of my preaching classes were helpful in terms of finding my voice, both figuratively and physically. But there is just nothing like getting extra opportunities to do the prep and delivery to help one grow as a preacher.
Here are some key lessons I’ve picked up in the past view months:
1. The sooner I have the texts, the better. Having 3-4 weeks between sermons right now has meant having more time to wrestle with the text, what others have seen in it, and what it might be trying say to me.
2. Never toss the drafts completely. I’ve found myself starting one direction, turning a couple of others and then sometimes finding some or all of that original work is still needed.
3. Don’t be afraid to set aside the manuscript, if the Spirit is truly calling for it. I have never been a strictly “by the book” person, allowing a little ad lib in and editing myself along the way. But I think if I would really work on getting a little more practice time in, I could do some notes-only delivery now and then.
This is where all three lessons tied together for me. This last sermon was a little bit of a struggle for me. It was the first time I’d been to this church and didn’t know a lot about them. It also was Trinity Sunday, and I wanted to honor the day without going too doctrinal/historical. So, I wrote, rewrote, read, changed and worked it pretty hard. After reading it for two services in the morning that were well-received, I had one last service to lead. It was the most casual and potentially interactive service of the three, and I was feeling uncomfortable with the idea of standing and reading one more time. So, I wrote out 3 opening thoughts and let her rip from there.
It was probably the most fun I’ve had in worship since the first time I played in a band with a drummer. I’ve never been a good enough guitarist to riff or solo, but I’ve done a little vocal improv. This was like jazz… all the preparation gave me the foundation on which to build. I knew the main notes I wanted to hit, but the grace notes in between were guided by the response of the other players in the room, both in person and the Spirit. It wasn’t fun for fun’s sake, but the sort of fun that comes from knowing that you are smack in the center of where God wants you, doing the very thing God made you to do.
That’s where I want to be.
And what I want to do.
Next shot in three weeks!