Word of the Week

I am Because of You

Getting more into the rhythm of preaching every week has caused me to pause recently, thinking about the voices that have shaped and strengthened my preaching.

Growing up never hearing a woman preach until I was 21, I didn't exactly start taking notes early on in life. So, most of my influences (that I can recount) have been in the past several years. Influences that I would not be the preacher I am today without.

Some of these people I know personally. Others I do not. I mention specific names because of how each individual opened doors for me for a new particular understanding that I did not possess until my path crossed with theirs. The following is the make-up of my preaching cloud of witnesses, if you will: 

From Carl- the need for a good illustration to make your points clear. Without it, you just might be wondering in the wilderness for a while.

From Turner- "Ask me the hardest sermon I ever preached and I will tell you: it was last Sunday!"

From Bruce- "Most of preaching is about presence, not even the words you say. Do you really believe what you are preaching?"

From my dad- The beauty of the pastoral phrase: "My friends"

From April- "Yes, Virginia, women can preach and do it quite well."

From Abby-Wrestle with the text, wrestle with the text and wrestle some more and there you will find God!

From Jim- It is all about solid exegesis and the hook. Can you draw people in at the beginning? Then, you are on your way to having a good sermon.

From Jerry- There is a difference in the gift of teaching and preaching. Whatever is your strongest gift, go for it with gusto.

From Amy- The importance of a clear sermon title. It focuses you and the congregation.

From Joe- Sermon themes aren't so bad after all. Preaching from them might actually help the congregation be more energized about what you are trying to teach them over a period of time.

From Anna- Always stay with the text. Write the text. Think the text. Trust the text to speak to you and then use your OWN words to talk about your experience with the passage, even if commentators disagree.

From Jeff- Sunday is coming always. So you best be prepared. Always be thinking ahead.

From Susan-Prooftexting in a sermon is not exactly the best way to go about things- when in doubt just preach ONE passage

From Barbara- Manuscripts aren't a crutch; it is a thoughtful presentation of carefully chosen words.

And, as these lessons continue to stay with me, my hope is that I don't stop learning or being shaped by new voices. While it is more difficult to do this week to week without an associate pastor (as I am doing most of the preaching), I look forward to going to more professional events in the New Year in my field. I look forward to several more opportunities the church budget is making available for us to have guest speakers (so I can benefit from them too). And, there are always opportunities to listen to good examples of preaching through the technology of podcasting.

Even with the challenges that have and continue to face me as a non-traditional clergy person and the work it takes to continually improve your craft, I am most energized by the fact that future generations of preachers (especially women) might be able to say one day: "I am because of you."