Jonny and I decided we should end the week with a very practical blog post. So here goes…
Around the first of the year I started a series on the Minor Prophets at my church. Who’s bright idea was that?! Yeah, I think it was mine. I had a few good reasons to do this:
Have you ever selected a topic or book of the Bible to preach on and you thought, before you started it, that it was going to be kind of boring – but then once you got into it, you realized that this was actually so good it might end up being your favorite message or series? Yeah, me too! That is exactly what is happening to me in this series through the minor prophets. Go figure.
We are calling this series, “Message in a Bottle”. Because pulling out these minor relics is like finding a message in a bottle, that no one has ever read before. Now we are reading them. I’m so glad we meandered to this section of the Bible. It’s out of my comfort zone. I have nothing to fall back on. And I am finding so much great truth that connects the testaments and us to the whole Bible.
How do you select preaching topics or series? Do you tend to walk close to familiar books like, oh, any of them besides the prophets, Kings, Chronicles, and, um, Job? Oh yes, and who can forget to forget the Song of Solomon. Steer clear!
Could I just encourage you to wade into the deep end? That’s where all the water is! When you move out of your homiletical comfort zone, you do a couple of things:
Do you know what you’re preaching on this weekend? Why not pick an arcane, obscure, and “untouched by human hands” passage? Dive in, dig in, and find the treasures!
One final, extremely helpful, suggestion:
Finally, one very important suggestion – study with someone else as you become acquainted with the passage or book or section you are moving into. Two heads are better than one. Find someone in your church, or even another pastor who is willing to tackle the same series with you – you can meet with him or her one afternoon a week and you can study together! Hey, don’t trash it until you’ve tried it – I’m tellin’ ya, you will love this. Just find the right person.
It would be a phenomenally strategic idea to find another pastor not too far away who is likeminded with you. Meet at a quiet restaurant or diner in the afternoon, and prepare messages together. (Just buy coffee or soda/Coke/pop, but leave a big tip. You'll be heros!) It could be just what you need to jumpstart your passion for discovery and study in relation to sermon prep! Expect to try this with a couple pastors before you find the one that is a right fit for you. Don't get discouraged.
Have a wonderful weekend with your people. LOVE them to death. Well, at least right up to the edge, then back off a bit.
P.S. My mom thought it was appropriate and funny to give me a spiritual joke book for my birthday. I thought it was cheap. Anyway, a quote from that now deceased theologian George Burns fits the topic of this post:
“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible!” Amen.
4/3/2014 11:50:09 pm
Nice post Pastor Jeff. Good thoughts - and I think I will attack Haggai right now : )
4/4/2014 05:38:05 am
You got it Craig! We are going after Haggai right after Easter.
4/4/2014 02:40:31 am
I preached from Joel a couple of years ago. Included in that was a call for the congregation to a 3 day fast, which concluded in a "solemn assembly" of un-scripted worship, which lasted 2 hours! Very powerful time. (Also preached not that long ago on Song of Solomon, which was interesting to say the least.)
4/4/2014 05:40:12 am
Cynthia - great real life experiences to attach to the learning of Joel's message! A 3-day fast - that's intense. Good ideas for us. I wonder though, what kind of real life experiences did you have the congregation use for the other study??? :)
4/19/2014 01:52:14 am
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
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