More about reading a sermon

The following paragraphs are the parts of that one post I cut out because they were was too rantful. I was venturing towards a somewhat different topic—though not entirely unrelated. As I kept writing there was an assumption that seemed to creep through the words: when compared to non-manuscript sermons, sermons given by manuscript are by default the obvious boring of the two. That is to say those without notes are the more striking, innovative sermons. I can’t agree with that. I’ve been challenged tremendously by some B-oring (a family saying) written sermons and have laughed and enjoyed extremely entertaining sermons that did nothing for my faith. Boring is as boring does. Besides it’s an explanation of the Bible….

Discussing elements of the Second Great Awakening, Stephen Prothero, in his book American Jesus, offers this comment regarding preachers during the early nineteenth century: “…preachers entered the world of entertainment, tailoring their performances to not only the eternal truths of the Bible but also the shifting desires of a fickle public.” Now, what I call Sunday morning adult VBS will have to be another rant on another day. You have probably seen examples of these, but still….

Are things very different? Pick a church, any church. Each Sunday, as they pack out the church doors, the overwhelming majority of people can only think to say, “Good sermon” or “I liked that one.” Good sermon? You liked it? Those are things I say about a football play or a movie I’ve just watched—both cases being forms of entertainment. I don’t suppose most people mean it that way, and maybe if more sermons were just a taaaaaaaaad more challenging or inspiring people would think of something else to say, but on the surface it sounds like preachers just might be low budget speakers.

When I’m preparing for a sermon there are a couple of things I have in mind:
• How does this relate to what the church is experiencing now?
• Where and what is the challenge in the text?
• How can each listener take the challenge with them?
• Give listeners something from Sunday to talk about on Monday

A joke is told about a little old church lady who was making her way out of church one Sunday. Her new minister had just given his first sermon to his new church. Shaking the young minister’s hand the woman said, “Thank you, Pastor. That was a good sermon.” The young minister replied like many others do, “Thank the Lord.” She answered back, “It wasn’t that good.”

Stay blessed…john

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