Had a lot of positive response to my last Sunday's sermon. More than usual so I am "chuffed" and motivated to do some more reflection on sermons and preaching before I blog on the preaching forum ...
For the curious my topic was "Samson: A good bad example". I love narrative preaching and I felt a look at Samson's life would be something beneficial to my congregation (self included) due to some interesting church developments. I am so glad that I decided to preach that sermon. I found out too that I need to spend more time in choosing how I word my sermon titles. The sermon title in itself I discovered helped stir up interest in the sermon (among other things). My Good Friday sermon "The stewardship of pain" (a title inspired by Frederick Buchener) had a similar effect and one church member mentioned this to me a few times already and how she is still thinking about the sermon contents and how the title helped.
Hmmm... And in 2 weeks I will be preaching for mothers Day and my sermon is entitled "Moses had two mothers". ... and it seems to be generating a bit of interest. I wonder ... is this due to the "marketing" culture we live in? Interestingly comments on the titles are from a wide spectrum of people. ...
Ok ... back to the preaching fourm. The workshop I enjoyed the most was by an American lady Dr. Lynne Baab who is the Jack Somerville Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at the University of Otago. (BTW, I have no idea who Jack Somerville is!). Her topic was: "How can being "visual" in the sermon include something more than using the data projector."
I guess she was invited even though she was not Kiwi because she lectures in NZ. Whatever ... I am glad she was invited. Basically her goal was to help us preachers and preacher wannabes move from just using ppt (words) and images (pictures) on the screen, flowers or banners to more creative stuff. I liked her approach as she was not just trying to promote using more creative means for the sake of being different etc, for "surprise value" (as is sometimes the case) but as a genuinely helpful way to communicate truth.
Things she touched on (oh sadly so briefly as we had so little time!) ... props, costumes, role play, drawings, chalk art ... making words alive (metaphors and stories). I suppose it is nothing new (at least to me) but very motivational for me to rethink about using these mediums and resources. I guess I have been very cautious as I do not want to be seen as rocking the boat etc. But I think that here at KCC, there has been enough time for me to have built a decent level of trust and acceptance so I think by the end of the year I will slowly build in more "visuals" into my Sunday sermons. I am given a lot more freedom when it comes to outreach meetings or children's meetings etc - that isn't a problem..
But as I reflect back on 2 years of preaching here, I actually have had very postive feedback when I used a magic effect (multiplying dollar bills) in a Sunday sermon on monetary stewardship and tithing. Also 2 Good Friday services where Scripture reading was intertwined with art images were well received. Some videos during Lord's Supper were also well recieved ... Hmmm... perhaps the concerns were more due to my own insecurities? Oh yes, and showing a section of Bruce Kuhn's "Gospel of Luke" dramatic recitation was very well received.
Anyway ... I have some plans ... next school holiday time when SS is closed ... I am planning to do some children's sermons (for adults too) and do something like my "Brother John" series of stories, and object lessons ... Perhaps an occasion for a short 2 man drama show ending with a monologue sermon? I have always wanted to do a monological preaching on a Sunday morning. Last time I did a monologue was at PJGH as the climax of Sean and Benjamin Low's "The Price 2". Man, that was so long ago....
Oh, she did not cover monlogues (looked at my notes and saw that it was under my personal notations). *for those who are unaware, I have a form of interacting note taking where I mix my thoughts with that of whoever is lecturing or speaking but I put in special annotations so I know that it is mine not the lecturers. Would hate to attribute unfairly years down the road one of my random thoughts to someone else.
Ah I decided after the forum to cut down the length of my ppt notes and ... lo and behold I got good feedback too. (I am a ppt abuser :-))
I guess another reason I enjoyed her workshop was due to her reminder of the large amount of metaphors found in the Bible as well as her advice on using active verbs, sensory details and allowing your own personality to be an integral part of the sermon. I actually know all this ... my first preaching lecturer back at MBS (Andrew Lim) pushed us hard to pay a lot of attention to the right choice of words and verbs etc.
But here in NZ, I have been a bit more careful (until last Sunday ... when I let out a lot more of my personality on the pulpit via the sermon ... I guess it was also easier when it is narrative preaching). But Is till think I need to be very careful because of not my accent can be a hindrance and by letting too much of my personality come through would not be sensitive to an international congregation.
(BTW, Dr. Paul Windsor, if you are checking in on this post to gather more feedback ... I did try to e-mail you via your website (twice) but I am not sure the email was sent. Anyway, if Langham Trust NZ organises another preaching seminar, you should try and locate Andrew Lim and check him out. He is a pastor in Palmerston North.)
It would be fun if I every got the chance to meet Dr. Baab again and show her a different dimension of the use of visual props (i.e Gospel magic). I know this would be something new to her as we discussed this a little in between another session.
Ok back to my sermon preparation (have a few to work on)