Friday, January 30, 2009

30-Minute Sermons in a 30-Second Culture by Pastor Bob Merritt

Today I (along with a couple of pastor friends) traveled up to Bethel University to sit in on a Pastor's Preaching Seminar led by Pastor Bob Merritt, senior pastor of Eagle Brook Church. I've mentioned my relationship with Bob a number of times on this blog, and it was great to hear from him again today. After the session Bob joked with me wondering if I learned anything new (I was his teaching assistant covering this very material for 2+years), and truthfully, I didn't learn anything new. But that wasn't why I went. I went needing a review. Bob Merritt is one of the best craftsmen in creating a sermon I have ever met. And any chance for me to get in front of him to learn from him, or to have him remind me of the things he has taught me over the years, is a opportunity for me to grow as a preacher. I always appreciate Bob's genuineness and openness when he is with other pastors.

Below are my notes from today's session. Everything in BOLD was on a handout minus a key word or two - fill in the blank style. Some of the sub points are my thoughts, some are things Bob said.

30-Minute Sermons in a 30-Second Culture
Principles to Help Your Sermons
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Preaching Principles (Romans 10:14-15 and 1 Timothy 4:12-16)

There are 2 parts to preaching: Content & delivery
-if you have great content but bad delivery, message is lost, and vice versa – need both

Great preaching comes from great writing
-no shortcuts to this
-Bob spends 15-20 hours a week writing sermons at his best hours of the day
-What is it you can stop doing (and be willing to be criticized for it) to spend more time writing sermons.
-doing good things at the expense of what is great

Write your messages over several days – staging your messages
-must open with story, and lead them to question – a question people are already asking

Write messages for real people. Answer the “so what?” Connect with real life, transform, not just inform.
-if it doesn’t help them get through Monday, why preach it?

Preach to people’s needs. What are they?
-wounds and shame

Invite one, pray for one, reach one, share with one

Start with humor and end with heart
-humor is a requirement
-it opens people up
-relaxes people, breaks down barriers
-engages them
-releases tension, particularly about coming to church
-use humor to deliver hard truth

Get better at writing personal stories
-push for a personal story early on in every message
-a point of connection for people
-shows you are a real person
-talk about your faults, your flaws, your fears early on
-establish a relationship each weekend
-Matthew 13:34 – story
-best stories come from personal experience, second best is other’s experience
-put yourself in situations where something could happen

Get more visual.
-pictures, videos, visuals

Read a chapter out of a book 4-5 days a week.
-Read everything Ortberg writes, Hybels, Henry Cloud, Andy Stanley
-9 thinks you must do
-The elegant solution
-Wealth Conundrum
-Fields of Gold

Rely on the goodness of God and the power of his spirit.

Stop writing messages in isolation.
-have a team of people who can review your sermons before you preach
-have a mix of people
-people you trust to give you honest feedback

Avoid meaningless cliches
-“on fire for Christ”
-“cleansed by the blood of the lamb”
-“God spoke to me”
-drop the churchy insider language

Drop the __________ (missed this note)

Bring them to a verdict
-what are you asking them to do, change or stop

Deliver with freedom. Use whatever it takes to know it.
-gives you the freedom when preaching to be personable

Take a writing class if you can

Get a camera
-get pictures of life happening
-helps with story, both to jog your memory, but to also support what you are saying

Me, We, God, You, We – Andy Stanley

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