crowdsourcing a sermon – part one

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at my church. In putting sermons together, I’ve been hoping that it would give me a chance to share a bit about my faith with people, and so I thought I’d write a short series of blog posts on my sermon preparation process.

According to the “sermons” folder on my computer, this was the 16th sermon I’ve preached (I didn’t think it was that many). For the first time, I was able to choose a passage and topic – it was a one-off sermon, not part of a series.

I wanted to talk about something that would be relevant to my friends, and so I asked twitter what I should preach about.

I only received one public response, asking why ‘the church’ is protecting child molesterors & giving a rats about mackillop. This seems an interesting topic to think about, but probably not one for a sermon.

The crowdsourcing attempt having failed, I ended up looking at the kind of worldview that I see being presented from advertising, and what the bible has to say about those things. The obvious choice for this was the book of James, and so I printed out a copy of the book, and had a look through to see what kinds of counter-cultural things I could find.

Once I’d found those, I put them into a program that I use for structuring my thoughts called Tinderbox. I generally start with a Tinderbox file that reminds me of each step of the process that Adriaan – a preaching mentor of mine – showed me (though these days, I use a bit of a mix of three different processes).

tinderbox sermon-writing template

After working with Tinderbox for a while, it looked like this:

using tinderbox for sermon prep - 1

After working out the things I wanted to talk about, it was time to put this into a structure. Normally, I preach on a single, short segment of the bible, and so the structure is either a matter of running through the passage in order, or picking a few themes and running through it. In this case, though, it was a bit more challenging – I’d be curious to hear how other people get this done.

Here’s what I ended up with:

using tinderbox for sermon prep - 2

The next step is to take this outline, and put it into Microsoft Word.

I’ll talk about this some more in the next part of the series.

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1 Comment

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    Best regards Alex

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