Great preaching is such a gift and we have been blessed once again today. Dr. Craddock spoke yesterday about how we "get into the text." And today he told us a little bit about how we "get out of the text," (and back to our congregations).
He suggested the following:
- That you should have one sentence that tells you what you got out of the text (even if you never actually use that sentence in your sermon
- That, as you write, you have an imaginary conversation with three people in your congregation about it (the grumpy old man, the new mother, the teen-aged cheerleader, etc.)
- There is a lot of good stuff in every text- but you don't have to preach it all- stick to one focus
- Unity and movement are important (like the way a novel has one focus that it is moving toward)- he says if your sermon is fractured and fragmented then you are adding to the fragmentation already found in our culture
- a quote about the sermon lacking focus, "I can tell if the preacher is flying around with the landing gear down looking for the narrow landing strip." (when a preacher is trying to end it and keeps saying, "and finally..."
- He says to read great literature as you prepare for preaching- not for illustrations but so you will remember how to form words, by doing this you are "walking in good company with those who know how to form words." Some authors he mentioned:
- Charles Frazier
- Thomas Hardy
- George Elliot (pen name for Mary Anne Evans)- particularly Middlemarch
- Herman Melville
- Eudora Welty
- John Milton
- Thomas De Quincey
- Maya Angelou
- Flannery O'Connor
- There are two purposes for a sermon: affecting and informing- but they don't have to be mutually exclusive- another way to say it- revelation and creation
- generate an appetite with your sermon and then feed it
- trust that your listeners will do some work- don't tell them everything, we love to anticipate where the preacher is going- even if we might be wrong
- here are some dont's: don't tell people who to identify with, don't tell them what to feel, don't over describe something
When I am less tired, you shall get to hear more about our new preacher-crush: Barbara Brown Taylor.