The problem with the typical stewardship sermon approach is it puts the cart before the horse. In this case the “cart” is the outcome: the amount of time, talent, and treasure people give on which the parish budget and programs depend. This cart contains idols of scarcity and desperation to achieve that which is beyond our control. Rather than be concerned about what people place in their metaphorical stewardship carts, we can be concerned about the “horse.” That is, the spiritual needs of our people and the dreams God has for them.
A few weeks ago I turned in the manuscript for my next book: The Gospel People Don’t Want to Hear: Preaching Challenging Messages (Working Preacher Books, anticipated Spring 2020). While I’m pleased with this first draft, it was much harder to write than I anticipated. What I learned from writing it are at least three hacks that apply to preaching.
As a writing instructor, I’ve discovered that preachers struggle with the things all writers struggle with. Purpose and audience, clarity and specificity, development of ideas, organization and structure. Planning their writing process. Generating ideas. Re-visioning their drafts. Polishing their sentences. And out of my experience teaching writers, I’ve created a free guide for preachers to help you generate more ideas and write more effectively.
There are times when muscling a sermon from the blank page through gritted teeth is actually counter-productive. When more is actually less. And when effort is not proportional to results. When we find ourselves dreading the blinking cursor at the top of our empty document, we may want to try a different tool than pure effort.