When we keep piling on the responsibilities without consideration for the prep time involved, the investment of energy required to engage, or the precedent it might be setting—then our calendars rule us instead of us ruling our calendars. That’s when preaching gets stuffed into the cracks and margins of ministry, and we end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by our self-defeating Sisyphisian attempts to “get on top of” our responsibilities.
Collaboration invites us beyond our own limited understanding to gain new insights and consider other perspectives. It refines our ideas and helps us solve problems that seem insurmountable alone. Not only is the burden of sermon prep lightened, our authentic connection to our listeners is expanded. We are simply better when we are working together.
I haven't laughed so hard in ages as I disclosed my own worst foibles and heard from my colleagues about theirs! Rather than reveal our "worst" sermon (which for all of us had been blessedly erased from our memories; God is merciful!) we on the panel revealed three of our biggest mistakes and what we learned from them. Here are my "Top Three."
How can you really know what your listeners need from a sermon? It may be as simple as asking. John McClure, the Charles G. Finney Professor of Preaching and Worship at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, suggests collaborative preaching for sermons that meet listeners in their questions and need. Check out four ways to tap into the power of collaborative preaching for your own sermons.
God's glory is revealed in the small as well as the big: in the sparrow and the heavens, the mustard seed and the mountains, the little children and the disciples. And our preaching grows stronger when we learn to attune ourselves to the way God appears in the smallest details of the Bible's stories and text.