What if You Never Had to Look for a Sermon Message Again?

weekly process so you don't have to search for a sermon message again.jpg

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"What am I going to say?!"

For preachers, that question can feel:

  • exciting
  • intimidating
  • or terrifying

When our response is the latter, fear that our message is lame, dumb, or boring can kill our confidence.

Likewise, fear that we'll land in the pulpit with our vocal cords on "mute" twists many a preacher's stomach into Celtic knots.

Even the most experienced preachers sometimes wonder how to pull another message out of too-familiar lessons.

 

Sermons driven by fear or avoidance of embarrassment may get the job done, but not pleasantly.

 

What if there were another way? A better way?

What if we never had to look for a sermon message again?

And no, I don't mean looking to the internet to "borrow" someone else's sermon.

I mean, what if we didn't have to look for the message at all?

 

What if instead, we let the sermon message find us?

 

Lectio Divina,

or "Holy Reading,"

for Sermon Prep: 

Never Look for a Sermon Message Again

 

As an aside, the best refresher (or introduction) to Lectio I can suggest is Maria Tasto's book, "The Transforming Power of Lectio Divina: How to Pray with Scripture.It's short and the most beautifully written book on the subject I've read. No matter how long you've practiced Lectio, I can't encourage you enough to savor this extraordinary little book*. 

 

When we use Lectio Divina as the process for sermon prep, 

this is what happens:

The Message is Revealed.

 

We don't have to look for the message. 

The Message wants to offer itself.

 

This slow, trusting, prayerful process encourages us 

to be still, 

to listen, 

and to attend to the scriptures 

until Christ speaks for himself.

 

Rather than us pulling the message out of the text, 

Christ offers the message as a gift.

 

Backstory Preaching adapted Lectio Divina for sermon prep.

The sermon message is revealed to us by the Spirit

as we pray the scriptures.

 

This is our weekly process.

 

This schedule provides time for reading, reflection, exegesis, writing, and revision.

Monday: Lectio (Read)

  • Become quiet in your body, mind, and spirit. Pray for the presence of Christ. 
  • Read the text over and over and over. Read it as is. Don't look for meaning or a message. Let the words be literal, concrete, actual, as the living, breathing Word of God they are.
  • The people in the text were once living people. Enter into their lives as a respectful guest. Let them speak for themselves, live their own lives, have their own context, quarrels, loves, relationship with God and God's with them.
  • Finally, let it rest for the day in Contemplatio (Rest).

Tuesday: Meditatio (Study, Day One)

  • Become quiet in your body, mind, and spirit. Pray for the presence of Christ. 
  • Re-read the text. Focus on a section or word or phrase that intrigues you, something you want to know more about.
  • Prayerfully follow your curiosity. Let the tradition form you through exegesis. Be playful with anticipation to follow "rabbit holes" using annotations, themes, and word or character studies.
  • Pray over your congregation. What's happening with some of them? All of them?
  • Enjoy this time of revelation, as God and these people reveal themselves to you. Let their motives, connections, nuances, themes, and theology inform you...and be glad.
  • Then rest. Let your discoveries breathe and expand in Contemplatio.

Wednesday: Meditatio (Study, Day Two)

  • Become quiet in your body, mind, and spirit. Pray for the presence of Christ. 
  • Re-read the texts. 
  • Notice what you have in common with the text, what surprises you, what disturbs or troubles you. 
  • Continue with formative exegesis. Be part of the communion of saints who shared their knowledge and experience with you and who guide you to see the Good News.
  • Put those you serve "in the same room" with the text. What do they have to say to each other?
  • Jot down notes. 
  • Continue to let God and the people, and words from the text live, and move and have their being inside you. 

Thursday: Oratio (Write, Day One)

  • Become quiet in your body, mind, and spirit. Pray for the presence of Christ.
  • Re-read and ponder the texts. Look inside yourself.
  • Gently ask in prayer: 
  • Now let your message guide your sermon so that you lead your listeners on a path of revelation similar to your own from the past few days. 
  • Find stories to illuminate the text/message and draw the listeners in so that the Good News is not an abstract theory but as real and concrete as the Word of God is in the text.
  • Take notes and/or outline your sermon. 
  • Let it rest in Contemplatio.

Friday: Oratio (Write, Day Two)

  • Become quiet in your body, mind, and spirit. Pray for the presence of Christ.
  • Write your sermon. Let it rest for a while.
  • Revise.
  • Give thanks.

 

There you have it. 

The message is revealed and offered through prayer, with curiosity and the joy of discovery, and without the stress. The bonus? You're finished by Friday

(If your Sabbath day is a weekday, then adjust the schedule as you like.) 

 

You'll never have to look for another sermon message again.

 

Want to learn more about incorporating Lectio Divina into your sermon prep? 

Here are two ways Backstory Preaching can help: 

 

1) Get Craft an Effective Sermon by FridayThis is our (beta) DIY e-course (in PDF format) with the whole, gentle process of a spiritual approach to sermon prep laid out in greater detail.

 

2) Start praying now about applying for our year-long intensive Mentorship for 2018During that year you'll practice incorporating your spirituality into your preaching and learn to preach more effectively, all online with colleagues and mentor.

 

Be Good News to Preach Good News,

Lisa+

lisa@backstorypreaching.com

 

P.S. "Like" us on Facebook, and join our Lectio Divina sermon prep conversation through the week!

P.P.S. Here's the link again to Maria Tasto's book, mentioned above*.

 

*If you purchase the book through this link, BsP will receive a small percentage of the sale. This is one way we help keep the lights on in our ministry. But you’re welcome to purchase the book independent of BsP. I just really like the book and want you to know about it.

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