Preaching is all about conviction. I have several convictions about preaching such as the worst sin a preacher can make is to be boring. The Bible is many things, but it is never boring. God is not boring either, but often preaching makes God sound boring. To that end one of my subsidiary convictions about preaching is that the style of the sermonizing I do should be varied. It is easy to get into a preaching rut and rely upon the same sermon schema week in and week out. Some preachers I’ve talked to say they don’t think the form matters. I disagree. The form matters a great deal. Choosing the form of the sermon is often the most important part of settling in on the sermon itself.
Tonight I worked on my series for October on finances and decided to use four different patterns of preaching for each of the four sermons.
- October 2. This is the launch of the series and I am covering Matthew 6:19-24 where Jesus says two powerful things about money. He says that where our treasure is, that is where our heart is and then he says we cannot serve both God and mammon. For this sermon I am going to use a method I learned from reading Fred Craddock. Craddock is a great storyteller preacher, but he is also an advocate of letting the form of the text dictate the sermon. So in this sermon, I am going to block it into groups of ideas and then finish with two or three summary concepts. To keep it interesting for me, I will weave into this another style of “narrative exposition” I learned from Calvin Miller, my preaching hero. Narrative exposition is my default style and I am most comfortable with it.
- October 9. For this sermon I’m going to go Hegelian. My concept is that there is a connection in the language of the Bible between debt and sin. This is most famously shown in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew. The Hegelian method follows a very strict form that cannot be toyed with too much. It has a thesis which is a positive statement, then that statement is balanced with an antithesis that is the opposite. Then the two are held in contrast with a relevant question. Then the sermon follows the course of answering how the thesis and antithesis work in the life of the believer. It is a very old form of preaching that still works very well.
- October 16. On this day I will preach about the ways we can work ourselves out of debt. It looks like an old fashioned list sermon because the title is “Five Steps to Getting out of Debt” but really it is my old friend the narrative exposition. For example, the first step to getting out of debt is to tithe, but the first step will be communicated by way of a story. I don’t know what that story will be yet, but I have an idea or two. Then each step will be the different aspects of a good narrative sermon which are biblical exegesis, supporting scripture, other stories, some statistics, probably a poem to quote, and then some real life application.
- October 23. This is the last sermon in the series and I intend to have real fun here. I will present various quotations in a “symposium” on money and finances. With each of the quotations I can interact and bring the biblical worldview into focus. Some of these quotations will be, of course, some Bible verses such as “silver and gold have I none.” I might play some more and add a piece of artwork to the symposium. I’ve preached this style a couple of times. The most successful attempt was about three years ago in a sermon about joy.
The more I work on these sermons, the most excited I get about preaching them because I love what I do.