I wrote this just over a week ago, before speaking at the Hinkler Family Camp… Hoping to get some time to share about that with you as well… But for now… Some musings on the preparations.
I never cease to be amazed by the process of preparing and preaching a message. It seems to be broken into five distinct sections.
Phase 1: The inspiration
First is the initial idea. You have a flash of inspiration where the Holy Spirit impresses you with a topic or passage to preach on. This is always an exciting point. And I usually feel like this is about to be the greatest sermon of my life, I feel that way about each new possibility.
Phase 2: The Construction
Secondly comes the build phase, this is where I do the research, Read up on the people, the social context, the historical background and collate it into something resembling logical order.
Phase 3: The Struggle
Phase three is the part I struggle with. It is the uh… struggle. This is when I realize that it is just not working. It seems that no matter how hard I try to think my way out it never quite works. It is worth noting this phase always happens within a week or two of actually preaching. None of my reasoning seems cogent, the half written sermon seems forced, cliche even, what I really want to do at this point is scrap the sermon and start again, but oh no… It is too late for that so I lament to my family and my God, I self-examine, internally persecute myself until I again come to the same realization that I always do at this point of sermon preparation…
That realization is the fact that is is God’s sermon, not mine. The struggle has good reason because I have not yet learned to fully trust him he withdraws his spirit for a time so I know in whom I can trust. If he did not do that. I would not preach well as I would be (heaven forbid) preaching in my own strength. And the lord would not be attending my way.
Phase 4: Road Block Removed
Phase four is a great part. This occurs when I am humbled before the Lord and it is as if the light turns on (This happened to me again tonight thus was the impetus for writing this post.) where it is nearly as if God says. Now you are resting in me… Here is what you need. And like a cascading waterfall the word of God flows into my mind carving out the passage his sermon must take.
Phase 5: Preach it!
Then five is the comparatively easy part. All the preparation done. You stand before the people as ready as you can be and you begin to unpack the words of life… Imparting to others that which the Lord has imparted to you.