Today was my first LLM course in Oxford Diocese; planning and leading worship - preaching. Given by a vicar who I have always enjoyed listening to and whom I was therefore excited to learn from.
There were 11 of us I think, mostly authorized preachers with 3 LLMs and a few considering ordination.
We started by thinking about what preaching is with the following ideas:
- giving the word of God
- relating the bible to real life
- delivering a message
- moving a congregation closer to God
- bringing a view on difficult issues
- explaining complex topics
- getting the congregation to think and feel what God is saying to them
"we are a window, through Gods grace, between God and the congregation"
Then what is a preacher:
- they have convictions about God
- convictions about scripture - God gives the words
- conviction about church
- conviction about preaching
And balancing this they must remain a pastor - sermons will hopefully effect congregations and it's the preachers role to ensure they are looked after.
So once we were ok with what our role is we moved onto the ingredients of preaching:
- congregation: they all hear differently and understanding this is key
- preacher: they are part of the contregation and must stay as learners and listeners
- sermon: they contain words and messages that are to be heard
- presence of Christ: the Holy Spirit gives the right words from the preacher to the congregation
The preacher is part of the sermon. Their style, experiences, personality and life all colour the sermon.
The congregation however are the listeners; they own the sermon once it's delivered and this depends on their own filters, therefore impacted by their experiences and lives
Different models of preachers.
Steward - faithful, duty bound by calling, preaching whole word of God
Herald - proclaims the need and reconciles the world
Witness - called to witness of God, of Jesus' story and use the Holy Spirit
Father - pastor - root preaching in life, get into congregations' soul, gently lead, provide easy explanations, balance kindness and earnestness, live the Christian life and pray!
Servant - be humble with power of word of God, in cross of Christ and with power of Holy Spirit
Storyteller - poet - get involved in the gospel stories
What is a good sermon:
- engages biblical text
- proclaims gospel
- connects Gods word to life
- is well organized
- easy to understand
- engages imaginations
- is well delivered
- orients congregation to a life in Gods world
How to prepare a sermon:
1- read bible passage several times
3- ask 3 questions
a) what was interesting
b) what didn't I understand
c) what might I include in the sermon
4- meditate on passage
5- study around the passage - concordances, lexicons and dictionaries
6- write an outline of 3/4 bullets
7- expand outline
8- review sermon with questions:
a) is it aimed at right congregation
b) why am I preaching
c) is structure right
d) what is God saying
e) have I used the right strategy
f) should I do anything differently
9-revise if needed
10- pray again
And some tips for preachers:
- use a varied tone of voice
- use a microphone
- don't be afraid of gestures
- use notes but don't read; perhaps bullet points
- keep eye contact with congregation
- illustrate words with pictures, objects, technology or stories
- don't reuse a sermon
And after it's all done; review and get feedback from congregation and clergy.
We had a go at writing our own sermons on a section of Nehamiah which was really interesting in groups, made me wish I could always design sermons collaboratively.
All in all, it was a really interesting and succinct introduction which reassured me and gave me ideas. It's late so I'm off for now but I'm sure I'll be back with more thoughts later, not least on the essay.