Habit 7 – Preaching that connects
OK, the sermon is not the be-all and end-all of a service. But preaching that connects is still a habit of a highly effective church.
Each sermon should have
- something to think about
- something to feel
- something to do
How often do you sit through a sermon and it is funny, and tugs at your heartstrings, and is intellectually fascinating – and then at the end you go: so what? What can I now go and do? How is your life going to be lived differently because of this?
A sermon, a homily, is not a read lecture. I like the response, “If you, the preacher, cannot remember it, how do you expect us, the listeners, to remember it…”
How long is a sermon? I am going to put my neck out: you have to be really good if you are going much beyond 10 minutes. 7 or 8 minutes – fine. And a written text at about 100 words a minute – so about 7-800 words.
If you are just starting out, and you are needing a full text, you might need to put in gestures.
Video yourself. Regularly. Record yourself – the technology is so easy. I belonged to a group and we shared recorded sermons. The one preaching had to write down in one simple sentence a summary of the sermon. At the end, each in the group had to write in one simple sentence what they thought the core of the sermon was. Comparing the intention with the experience was a good starting point for discussion…
If you are using a full text, in your preparation read aloud the last paragraph; then the last two paragraphs; then the last three – all the way to the start of your sermon. That way you have read aloud the last paragraph about a dozen times; the paragraph before that a bit less… As you get into your sermon you are more and more confident of where it is going…
Preparation time: my rule of thumb is an hour a minute. And shorter sermons take longer.
What (practical) topics are you covering in your sermons? Do you keep a list in a couple of words for each sermon of its practical application? Do you have a list of practical applications you would like to cover at least in a three year period? Do you plan ahead, seeing where the lectionary is heading, so that you can have a preaching series on a particular biblical book, or theme…
The first habit is: Focus on God
The second habit is: Be Welcoming
The third habit is: Help others
The fourth habit is: Quality Music
The fifth habit is: Being Connected
The sixth habit is: Well-formed leadership
Today is the Twentyfourth Day of Easter.