Tag Archives: church

Preparing a sermon

Having been at the same church for 24 years I am fond of the phrase, ‘change the preacher or change the preacher’. Fair enough to say my preaching has changed a lot in the last two decades. It better have!

These days my sermon preparation looks something like this.

Pray and think about what God might want to say to the people this week. We have themes and patterns we follow at Inglewood Church. These are seasonal as well as topical. What is happening in the life of our church community, our wider community and indeed our world.

I believe in Pastoral preaching. What are the needs of the people God has in my community and those through the Power of the Spirit we are trying to reach. I truly believe in preaching for those who are not there yet, as well as for those who are. In creates synergy in terms of vision and direction. It provides community and points of recognition. Where people listening understand that God has something to say to them and their lives today. Above all relevance.

Secondly I will open up my scriptures to the places and themes where God is leading and where we have as a preaching team decided to go. An exploration takes place in unpacking the context, the theme, the exegetical structure of the passage and even individual words.

Then I will spend time reading what others are saying on the theme and scripture. From a wide variety of commentaries, listening and watching other peoples sermons and word studies they have done.

All the time I am doing this I am jotting words, scriptures, ideas, phrases and even structures onto a draft piece of notepad. From that draft I then go to my second blank piece of paper on my notepad and write my message. This whole process can take a week, a day or in some rare circumstances two hours. It really is purely organic. There is a phrase some preachers use called ‘percolation”.  In the best weeks this has been happening almost subconsciously. The message then just flows. It does not always happen this way. Every week it is different. And the local church pastor will tell you with a wry grin on their face, ‘Sunday comes every week”.

I then practice the message. I will often do this three to four times. I literally stand on stage and preach the message. Sometimes another Pastoral staff member will walk past with a bemused look on their face. They know the process by now.

Sunday morning at around 7.15am I will be in church praying over every seat. Praying for those coming, those thinking of coming and those yet to come. Those I would dearly love to have there. After this prayer time I will preach my sermon again. I preach without notes these days.

The preaching time then becomes a fluid moment all of its own. It is never word for word. Sometimes I find myself taking it for a moment in a direction I feel the Spirit leading. But as my old Bible College lecturer said to me once, ‘a fog in the pulpit becomes a mist in the pews”. I like to keep on track, be focused and respect the time. My sermons go for no more than 30 minutes, and normally 25. If you can’t say it in that time, I don’t think you have focus. It is a weighty responsibility. Every week people rock up to church wanting and hoping to hear something from God. I am not God. Nor do I speak directly from Him. I try to hear His voice. I try to interpret that and present it in a way that can be heard. The Spirits voice helping me. Resonating with the Spirit in ever ones heart that is present.

What to wear to church

Yes, it has been quite the journey.
When I first started attending North Beach Youth Group back in the early ’80’s my first memory of clothes was cargo pants and a flannelette shirt. Part Triggs Bogan, part surf grommette.
As I rollerskated around Balcatta Roller Drome those were the days. Mind melting sugar infused slushies, ’80’s synth music and the chance to see real girls and maybe even, gulp, invite one of them to the slow roller dance with Hearts “Alone” pumping out.
Church was strictly a pants and shirt affair. Until I started wagging church when my olds went off to plant another church, and I kept attending North Beach. Sort of.

When I started pastoring on my own at what was then Bedford Baptist it was obvious that if I was going to be preaching I needed to make sure I wore a tie. Most of the older men wore suits and ties, even then in the ’90’s.

A transformation of sorts took place when the church started to attract people from the actual area we were located in. These folk were much more relaxed. In fact while they may have worn a suit during the week, there is no way they wanted to wear one on Sunday. In fact there was one particular man who stood out. He had three daughters, had recently come back to church and was just the sort of family we were trying to attract. I said to my deacons, you know this is the sort of person we are trying to reach, from our own community. From that point on I ditched the tie and pants and started wearing jeans and a nice shirt.

At Inglewood now we have implemented a policy of sorts just to make sure those on stage are not too casual! In fact being too casual can distract people from Jesus. That will be different for every church and culture. I am not making rules here. Just principles. Dress for who you are trying to reach.flannelette

Recently I have been wearing a $17 Target Flannelette shirt along with my standard black or blue jeans. Its comfortable and suits me and our area. The wheel has come full circle.