Why does a Gospel text bother us?
That’s the essential question when confronted with a text we don’t like. The essential answer is this:
The text bothers us because it conflicts with our understanding of God.
Jesus doesn’t always speak or act consistently with our faith.
So how do you find the sermon message when dealing with Gospel texts where Jesus frustrates, disappoints, or makes you nervous? This 8-step process examines the backstory of your faith so you can name your theology, identify the apparent inconsistencies in the text, and then bridge the gap between them.
Maybe you want it revealed. Maybe you don't.
Regardless, it's on display in every sermon.
What am I talking about? Your backstory.
Your backstory is the story you tell in your sermons without "telling" it. It seeps into your sermons whether or not you say the word, "I."
Your backstory is the unique mixture of your theology, childhood, DNA, education, church experience, personality, political persuasion, and so much more. It affects how you approach the Sunday's scriptures, influences your conclusions about them, and shapes your style and the purpose for which you preach.
To preach the message you intend to preach, consider these three aspects of your backstory to help you use your backstory in service to your preaching.
During stewardship season we preach to our parishioners about the need to offer their time, talent, and treasure.
But we preachers need a different conversation.
We need a frank, "backstory" conversation about our personal dependence on parishioners' donations, and the ways money affects our relationships with parishioners and colleagues and our capacity to preach with our whole selves.
As preachers, we all strive for:
Because these elements help move the listener toward an encounter with the Living Word.
But sometimes, good sermon practices aren't enough.
As preachers, we may also need to remove obstacles that cast a shadow on people's experience of grace, truth, and love.
Our sermons about stewardship can feel heavy with the burden of making ends meet.
Given these stakes, it can be tempting to preach from scarcity rather than abundance, to exert pressure rather than issue an invitation, to emphasize monetary bottom lines rather than spiritual transformation.
There's another way to preach, however. Learn to recognize these ten mistakes preachers make in their stewardship sermons so you can craft sermons that invite your congregation to participate in God's abundance instead.
In an increasingly unchurched and biblically illiterate society, preaching is the only biblical education many ever get.
Preaching is also a primary factor in many newcomers' decision about whether to return for a second visit.
As a result, the quality of your sermons matters both to your congregation's spiritual growth and to your church's ability to become a spiritual home for those seeking one.
That sounds like a lot of pressure, particularly when preaching is only one part of the job. Fortunately, it is possible to improve and grow in your craft.
When natural disasters, political crises, and social injustices occur week after week, compassion fatigue can set in. What are we to do in the face of overwhelming need?
Preachers can help their listeners avoid becoming numb, irritated or unresponsive, though. Read on to find out how.
Whether we're in the middle of our own crisis and feel overwhelmed about what to do next, or we want to do something, anything!, to help someone else who is, here are four responses we can offer in our sermons at the intersection of the Gospel and experience.
As Hurricane Harvey approaches, we consider how to preach when facing a natural disaster. What is the role of a preacher? How do we comfort and encourage when life and livelihood are threatened?