Monday, June 11, 2007

Better Preaching Through Less Writing

I had my annual evaluation yesterday.

I like this Board. I received a very constructive evaluation. Sometimes an evaluation is, “You’re great, we love you,” which is nice, but not helpful. Sometimes it’s “We think you’re awful, we can’t wait until your contract expires,” which is not pleasant or helpful. This Board does a good job.

One of the suggestion/comments has had me thinking ever since. They thought the sermons I preached from outlines were actually more engaging and real than the ones I preached from a manuscript. As some of you may remember, I did preach from outlines for a while earlier this year, but went back to manuscripts (I don’t remember why).

The truth is, at least for yesterday, that procrastination and the temptation of time spent with friends instead of the sermon got the best of me this past week—so while I knew where I wanted to go with the sermon, I hadn’t sat down with it and worked on it. So what I preached from was my outline (detailed), with needed facts, quotes, names, etc—factual stuff—written in, and the rest left to me, or more accurately, to the Holy Spirit moving in me. Well, the Spirit did some moving indeed—turned out to be a good sermon, and they said so.

My seminary preaching professors kept pushing us to preach from outlines, and I resisted greatly.

But now I have to admit, they were right. Imagine that!

With the manuscript, I was tied to that as to what to say—of course I would depart from time to time, but most of what I said was right there in front of me, and I didn’t feel free to go beyond it—and I didn’t have the spontaneity of simply talking, either.

So I’m going back to outlines for a while. It doesn’t mean any less preparation—but it may allow me to improve my preaching!

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