I had a chance to sit down with a preacher after I listened to his sermon. I find the conversation about preaching can be fascinating, and really helpful for those who face the art, craft, and challenge of preaching on a regular basis.
The text for the sermon came from the assigned readings for Ascension, which we celebrated on a Sunday. With all of the stuff going on in those texts, you have to narrow the scope from what you could say, to what you are going to say. Hearing the thinking behind this sermon preparation process helps preachers refine their own process; and it helps hearers better understand what goes into what they hear on Sunday morning.
In the following interview, Pastor Matt Hein and I talk about how he chose the text to preach on and how he decided to shape the sermon the way he did. You will hear us talk about the structure of the sermon (the way the sermon experience is shaped over time) as well as different moments of reflection within the sermon.
The structure for this particular sermon is called Frame and Refrain, which you can read more about here. This kind of sermon begins with a story or image that helps shape a central thought for the hearers and leads to a clear expression of the theme. That theme is repeated as a refrain several times during the sermon, and the original story or image is repeated at the end of the sermon, and therefore frames the entire presentation.
Although the interview talks a lot about the structure of the sermon and how it worked, you will also hear other important preaching themes: how do you use a personal story from another person’s experience? How do you preach sanctification? How do you approach the text as a hearer first, and secondly as a preacher? These conversations flow naturally from the discussion of the preacher’s experience of the preaching event.
Check out the video and then watch the sermon, below.
Now that you have heard what the preacher had in mind during the preparation of the sermon, listen for those dynamics in the sermon below. As you listen, also pay attention the the way metaphor gets used not to structure the progression of the sermon but as part of the development. You can hear the basic metaphor moves of Evoking the Source, Mapping to the Target, Testing the Limits, and Seeing with a New Lens, especially in the discussion of witnesses and what makes them credible.
Every sermon brings a wide range of dynamics to bear on the preacher, the hearer, and the community. How do you experience sermons on a regular basis? How does learning more about the sermon writing process help you be a better hearer? I find the more I process a sermon with a few other people, either as a preacher or as a hearer, the better I am able to identify what Jesus is speaking into my life and what kind of response He is shaping in me.