By Justin Rossow
In 2015 we preached through the Gospel of Mark between January and Easter. And it was *awesome.*
Looking back over so many weeks in the same book of the Bible, following the same story line, preaching on the Gospel Lesson week after week after week, I am deeply grateful for the training I received in sermon structures, their variety and their purpose.
Though the development of a specific sermon structure is part of my own contribution to the field of homiletics–a structure labeled Metaphorical Movement by the sermon structure guru, David Schmitt–I found I didn’t resort to my favorite structure even once over the course of those months.
Instead, the dynamics of the text and of the message for the day shaped the form the sermon would take.
This variety in ways of proclaiming God’s work for us in Christ brought energy and vitality to my own experience of preaching. I didn’t get tired of saying the same thing over and over again. I looked forward to preaching week after week.
I didn’t get tired of saying the same thing over and over again.
And I got so much more out of Mark personally by highlighting recurring themes through the different methods available to me because of how I have been taught to approach the preaching task.
So if you helped shaped me as a preacher, thank you!
And if you have been one of my hearers and encouraged me with your listening and support, thank you!
And if you are one of my staff partners who have prayed and processed and discussed and imagined and followed Jesus with me, thank you!
I truly love preaching, and you all are part of what I love about it!
And if you are a preacher wondering how to recapture a love for your own preaching ministry, consider how different sermon structures help bring out different aspects of any text or sermon experience. Challenge yourself to try something new at least once next month …
For the record, the sermons I preached between January and Easter had the following structures:
- Jan 4, Baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:1-13), Dynamic, Four Pages
- Jan 11, Calling of the Disciples (Mark 1:14-28), Dynamic, Dialogical
- Jan 25, Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41), Dynamic, Narrative, Lowry Loop
- Feb 1, Raising Jairus’ Daughter (Mark 5:21-43), Thematic, Comparison/Contrast
- Feb 8, Feeding of the 4,000/ Healing in 2 stages (Mark 8:1-26), Dynamic, Narrative, Epic Form
- Feb 15, Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13), Dynamic, Four Pages
- Feb 22 (Lent 1) Triumphal Entrance (Mark 11:1-11), Dynamic, Imagistic, Central Image, Multiple Focus
- March 8, Stay Awake! (Mark 13:1-13, 32-37), Textual, Verse-by-Verse
- March 15, Two Meals before the Passion (Mark 14:1-25), Dynamic, Imagistic, Frame and Refrain
- March 29, The Arrest (Mark 14:43-52), Thematic, Paradox Maintained
- Good Friday, (Mark 14:53-15:47) The Passion according to Mark, Textual, Genre, Storied Discourse, Framing the Biblical Story, Story Delayed
- Easter, God is on a Mission and Nothing Can Stop Him! (Mk. 16:1-8), Biblical Story Interrupted
You can check out any of these sermons in the Prezi below. If you listen to several, you may notice that the dynamics of metaphor theory for preaching–Evoke the Source, Map to the Target, Test the Limits, and See Through a New Lens–are present within many of the sermons as I develop a moment of meditation.
But the STRUCTURE of these sermons order these moments of meditation, giving shape and direction to the progression of the sermon as a whole.
Instead of trying to do the same thing every week, these sermon structures allow me to preach both Law and Gospel in unique ways which flow from the unique texts I am preaching on–even when all of those texts are from the same Gospel!