One of the best ways to improve a craft is to study and learn from the masters in the field. This week, we introduce you to three respected preaching teachers and invite you to join us in learning from them over the next few months.
There may be more than one way you and your community relate to one another depending on circumstances. It’s likely that sometimes you preach as an authoritative teacher, and sometimes you speak from your position as a fellow Chirstian. But then ask yourself: how does the way I talk about myself and my community in my sermon signal those relationships?
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 is a temptation, I feel, during seasons like Lent, Holy Week, or Advent, to lose our own way of communicating God's truths, in favor of covering all of our theological bases. We sometimes wish to be right more than we wish to be ourselves in the pulpit. One can do both. But it all depends on the words we choose.
Conversational preaching can mean many things for preachers. But, scholars of language have studied this topic and identified several necessary features that distinguish conversation from other kinds of speech. One obvious quality of conversation is that there is more than one participant. And while this may sound outlandish in a sermon, the the truth is, you already have more preaching partners than you realize.
Here’s the truth many clergy have shared with me: they are afraid to preach about issues of public concern. They know their sermons should in some way address things like racism, homophobia, climate change, sexism, economic issues, or hatred of foreigners, for example. But fear holds them back, keeps them quiet, and muzzles their prophetic voice. How can you preach when you are afraid?