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!
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.