Friday, February 26, 2010

Why the Hell Are You Doing This Sermon???

I have a dear friend who asked me to coach her in writing a sermon. It has wound up being a great gift to me, as it’s forced me to think through the steps I take. Some are obvious – Big Idea, main points, explanation/illustration/application, but as we’ve done this process, step by step, I realized there are other things I always do, that I never thought about as steps.

The biggie is The Reassess.

After she was more or less done with her sermon – it was all out there, but no tweaking and editing yet – I said, okay, time to reassess. Send me a paragraph or so, explaining why you're doing this sermon. I told her to imagine a bitchy person at her elbow, asking, "Why should I come hear this sermon on Sunday? I could be in bed, or seeing a movie, or outside playing golf. What is so important that I should spend my free time coming to hear this?"

She wrote me a polite little paragraph, the kind of thing you could drop into a church newsletter.

Nuh-uh, I told her.

And I opened up a can of Sermon Whoop-Ass.

1) Have confidence! You have a VITALLY important message to give. This could, literally, be a matter of life and death. You have the power to SAVE someone on Sunday. OWN IT!

2) Translate this into your own theological language: You are in this place, at this time, for a reason. This is not just to fill empty time on a Sunday. A Holy Spirit (whether God/Goddess involved or not) is moving in you and through you. This is not about feeling too proud. It's about being confident in the life-giving message you are to give. As Thandeka says, "Salvation is NOT a solo act!"

Now ... write back to me, no fancy language, use expletives if you need to: tell me why the hell you're doing this sermon on Sunday, what you want someone to walk away with, what is going to feed them, challenge them, and keep them going for one more week of this existence!!!
In case I didn’t mention it, we’re very good friends.

She dug down deep, wrote back with an on-fire answer, looked back over her sermon, did some tweaking to make sure it matched her fiery answer. It rocks.

I’ve always kind of done that step automatically, but I’m glad I have it down in words. “Can of Sermon Whoop-Ass.” It will be one of my official steps now, too.


ms. kitty said...

Love it! Now I'm looking at my sermon for this Sunday on "Love, Sex, and Ethics" with new eyes. Thanks, LE!

Seeker of the Flaming Chalice said...

Awesome! Thank You for the idea!

TK said...

Am writing my first sermon for 5/23. Thanks for the tip!