Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Monday Wednesday Morning Preacher: By the seat of my pants

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So anyway...

There I was in Fort Bragg with my sermon notes all set out ready to go. But I wasn't happy about the sermon, and I wasn't sure why. I had an hour before the service. I took Andy for a quick walk and realized: although I was saying something that was perfectly fine, I wasn't saying what I actually wanted to say. Which meant I had to figure out what that was.

I knew exactly the part where I started saying the "good" stuff instead of the "true" stuff--things that sound really good but weren't truly coming from my heart and mind and soul. You can see it there, with the big line through it, a fabulous quote from Howard Thurman I simply couldn't use. So basically all I had was that little bit at the top, which is more than it looks like because some of that is the prompts for stories, and...that's it.

So I went in to preach without a clear point, and without an ending, which is particularly bad since I think endings are my weakest area in preaching. I didn't even bother bringing out the notes since that part was clear in my head. But, boy, was the resolution of the sermon in doubt as I asked people to be seated.

The sermon started well. Intro, good; stories, good. The transition from the planned to the unplanned part of the sermon was really rough as I completely lost the thread. Somehow things managed to get on track and then miraculously a point appeared! One that was memorable, clear, and useful. Somehow the sermon ended and then the service went on. Whew!

Man, that had potential for one huge flop. I do not want to be doing that every week. I'm glad I took the risk, though, because even though this sermon would have been perfectly fine, I would have felt there was something amiss. Ask me if I feel this way after a sermon totally bombs, but I'd rather have a genuine sermon bomb than an inauthentic sermon succeed.

I still remember a sermon I heard in a preaching class. It was an absolutely unobjectionable sermon, but at the end I asked my classmate, "Do you actually believe that?" and she admitted she didn't. It had shown all over her that she couldn't get behind what she was saying. I was very grateful to my professor who didn't tell us that we should redouble our efforts to get behind the party line, but that we needed to find the message we could get behind and preach that.

I'm glad I was able to discover in time that I had written a sermon that wasn't my own, and fervently grateful to God for helping me find my sermon while I was preaching it. Here's hoping I don't have to do that again for a while.


Anonymous said...

And where do we get to read siad sermon??

LKT said...

The problem with winging it is, I don't remember it too clearly. A piece of it is in the post above.