Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored

23Apr/090

The Reluctant Preacher, Part 2

Tomorrow I will once again approach the pulpit, in an attempt to communicate the Word of God effectively. It is a task that requires a TON of diligence, and one to which I feel totally inadequate. Give me a classroom, and I feel right at home, but put me behind a pulpit, and all is lost. Here are a few reasons why:

The sermon requires a monologue, not a conversation:
During my first sermon I approached the message with a concrete knowledge of my outline, thinking the inflections of my words and motions of my body would simply fit themselves to the message. I was wrong. I spent 12 minutes pacing back and forth with my hands bouncing together as if they were connected with a giant rubber band. My motions failed to follow my words and distracted the audience from God's Word.

I've realized since then that a monologue is best fit into the category of acting, rather than speaking. It requires diligent rehearsal...both of words and physical actions. This time I wrote out my outline with inserted body movements, and I have practiced on the stage and in front of the mirror, rather than across a blank table. Next, I should allow my wife to critique my practice...but I just don't have the guts for that yet.

Outline or Full Manuscript, I still cannot decide!
It really is quite difficult for me to decide whether I would prefer to preach from an outline or a manuscript. The manuscript allows me to be more eloquent with my words...but the process of revising it over and over along with my constant habit of  changing the wording in the midst of the sermon makes all that hard work seem useless.

Using Scripture to Explain Scripture: Bad.
There is rarely a sermon that I hear today that does not seem to need to validate the words of a passage of Scripture with the example of David, Abraham, Joseph or Jesus. It carries with it to negative connotations.

Firstly, it seems to imply that if Jesus didn't say it, it's not as important to us as what He said--or that it doesn't apply to us today. My professor jokingly said it this way: why do we need red-letter Bibles? The church believes that the entire Bible is the written product of the Holy Spirit. He's just as much God as Jesus. The entire thing should be red-letter!

In addition to this, it is REALLY common to use Scripture to validate Scripture. We preach from Proverbs, only to pull in an example from the book of Job. The problem again is this: Scripture does not need to be repeated to be true. One lone command should be just as powerful in our lives as a command repeated 10 times. I cannot think enough to elaborate on this more right now, except to say this: beware filling the need to make Joseph or David the example for everything you teach. We should feel the need to enhance the commands of Scripture with stories of Scripture. Examples from real life are often more applicable, especially since many of the story examples I hear used to validate lessons on character or leadership tend to take the intention for the stories of these Biblical figures out of context.

Send up a prayer for me...this may be a class assignment, but it still involves proclaiming the Word of God, and I never want to take that lightly.

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