I’m preaching my last sermon at Quest this Sunday – My last sermon before the beginning of my three month sabbatical which begins in couple weeks.
I am really going to miss teaching at Quest especially because I’ve been really enjoying going through the book of Acts but just as much as I feel like I deserve this sabbatical, this is also my gift to the Quest Community for the summer. They’ve earned this break from my long sermons – especially the folks at the 5pm service where I feel a little “too free” and sometimes go about an hour. Enjoy this break Questers because I’ll be back with a vengeance.
People have asked about my “sermon process” so I’ll briefly share some thoughts here:
- I love preaching through the Scriptures. I’ve enjoyed topical preaching in previous years but find myself beginning from a more subjective [and dangerous] place. I decide what I want to say or talk about and then fight Scriptures to support it. Not good.
- I love “Narrative Expository” teaching because it helps me to focus on the TEXT first. Also, I don’t have to waste time thinking about what I’m going to preach on or about. I just move from passage to the next passage. This week, I’m teaching on Acts 9:1-19a and one of our other pastors preaches on the next section in Chapter 9 next week. Nothing fancy but simply, the study and exegesis of the Revelation of Scriptures.
- Because our church spends numerous months on a particular letter or book of the Bible, I have the advantage of reading and preparing for a sermon about two or three months in advance. While I don’t do any extensive prep months in advance, I’m able to read ahead and have a “big picture” idea of where we’re headed.
- While there’s nothing unique that I do in my sermon preparation, I do read the particular text at least 50-70x over the course of two months leading to the Sunday I teach from that text. That’s been one of the most helpful aspects in establishing a level of “confidence” in my preaching voice. Reading in so many times allows me the joy of reading it through different angles, perspectives, and experiences.
- During the weekly leading to the Sunday, I put together a simple outline, access commentaries if necessary, ask for some feedback from the other pastors if needed, and put a few notes together so I can be able to teach freely and fluidly on Sunday – with my arms and hands flailing with great spiritual conviction.
These are the questions I ask during each preparation process:
- What does the Scripture say? What is the context? Who is it speaking to? What is the cultural lens?
- What does it mean? How do I interpret this?
- How does this apply to the believer/church?
- How does this apply to the current cultural landscape? How does it affirm, rebuke, or speak prophetically against the culture?
In my opinion, teaching can be superficial if we start and focus on #3. Rather than asking what the Scriptures are saying, we focus on “How do you FEEL about this?” If we’re not careful, we end up simply as feel good “spiritual therapists” at best.
It’s a legitimate question but also should be asked in the context of the bigger picture. I want to make sure that through each sermon, the church is a] learning about the Scriptures, b] being equipped in reading the Scriptures, and c] [hopefully] convicted by the Holy Spirit to grow as followers of Christ.
Last thought: Exegesis [interpretation] of the Scriptures is important and not all pastors do it well. But equally as important in my opinion is the Exegesis of Culture. How does the Scriptures engage, converse, dialogue, and wrestle with Culture – Locally and Globally?
What do you think?