Monday, April 20, 2009

DIY: How to write a lousy sermon

My best sermons almost write themselves.

Last Sabbath's sermon did not -- in fact, I was up until 11:30 PM on Friday trying to hammer it into shape, and up again at 5:30 AM to finish it. The result was not one of the worst sermons I've ever preached; myself, I'd give it a a C+ . . .

But it was definitely no fun to write. No fun to preach. And no fun to discuss with my wife over Sabbath lunch. (In fact, she gave it a C+ too.)

So what went wrong?

First, I never really decided what my text should be. I'd planned to preach on Matthew 7:1-2, but that led to verses 3-5 . . . and doesn't verse 6 provide a needed corrective? Then again, verses 1 and 12 clearly form an inclusio -- and that means I need to discuss the promise of verses 7-11 as a means of achieving Christ's commands in verses 1, 5, and 12.

Or maybe not.

Which brings up my second mistake: getting bogged down in what all the experts said. Don't get me wrong: every one of the 15 authors I checked had something good to say. But I got so involved in trying to make sense of what they said, that I stinted the time needed to think about the text, pray about the text, and apply the text to our local situation.

And that was my biggest mistake of all: rushing into the sermon. In truth, it had been a busy week -- busy enough that I'd not taken the time I need for reflection and prayer. Unfortunately, sermons are like small children: you can't hurry them along without paying a price.

And my church members paid the price last Sabbath.

That doesn't mean some people weren't blessed -- the same God who spoke through Balaam's donkey, after all, may well have spoken through my sermon.

But there's got to be an easier way.

1 comment:

Hanan Merrill said...

"My best sermons almost write themselves."

I couldn't have said it better!