When Mary gazes gently at us from statues, paintings, and icons, what do we see? How do we understand her? Perhaps there's more to Mary than her "meek and mild" representations suggest.
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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.
It came up again this week in light of the horrendous shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Some preachers are concerned their fellow preachers aren’t doing their jobs.
What do preachers need to preach a faithful sermon that names the depth of sin known as racism that is experienced across the United States and elsewhere? And how do I, as a white person, talk about something that I’m complicit in?
There’s no getting around it: there are some tough passages in Scripture. Dr. Thompson showed us we can stay true to the text without excusing it; making it metaphorical, allegorical, or symbolic; or providing a justification that the times were “different back then.”
We’re so excited about Sermon Camp, we want to share one of the lessons at the core of our process. Preachers find the shift discussed in this lesson (video + chapter) transforms their sermon prep and their sermons—and addresses a crucial mistake most didn’t realize they were making.
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.
Information will help us preach knowledgeably. But to preach authentically—to preach transformationally—we need more than information.
How can we, as preachers, approach our craft with the wisdom of Yo-Yo Ma and the genius of Bach in order to better engage our listeners?