Monday, July 9, 2012

Preaching

Preaching is a humbling experience, particularly it's aftermath. My dad's an artist, in his poetry and artwork he's able to express simple ideas beautifully. I wanted to do that with preaching, instead the result is a babbling mishmash of concepts and illustrations. My supervisor Campbell has encouraged me to be more structured and I've seen first hand the benefits of being pastoral: talking about people's actual experiences to actual situations in the congregation. Today I've decided that, while I need to keep being pastoral, I should aim to be a philosopher, like my favorite philosopher Peter Kreeft. In other-words have the goal of expressing complex truths simply. I then had the most encouraging conversation with James Veltmeyer, who is a SMBC grad and youth minister in Bellerive, Hobart.

He reminded me of Chapo's famous model, explained here, and then outlined to me his own variation with a few extra encouraging tips. James, before going into ministry was a carpenter, this coupled with his personality and SMBC training makes him a clear, funny and strong communicator.

James's tweaked Chapo model:
  1. State the main idea
  2. Show the main idea in the Bible
  3. Illustrate the main idea
  4. Critique the main idea 
  5. Explain from the passage
  6. Apply with examples
He also recommended thinking about my delivery and suggested another alternative where the critique goes at number 2 to make people "hungry for the passage." With delivery he said I should try to make every phrase and gesture count, think about what I want to achieve. He encouraged me to be direct with the "possible applications" because we are often afraid as preachers of the people's reactions. Then he suggested a really nifty idea of using the "impossible application" as way of thinking of good illustrations. 

On top of all this I read this useful article about the gap between exegesis and application at the Briefing, if you are a preacher or you listen to sermons you should read it. (I'm going back to Preacher's workshop next year!)

[Photo of James with his son. and a fish.]

3 comments:

Radagast said...

In any kind of speaking and writing, a "babbling mishmash of concepts and illustrations" is easy to achieve. I've often done it myself. The causes are (1) lack of structure, (2) losing track of the key point, and (3) not having a sensible trajectory through the topic.

The first, IMHO, can be addressed by a good outline, the second requires both identifying the key point and keeping it in mind (it should be possible to summarise the sermon in a sentence or two, and it's worth doing that explicitly). The trajectory is to some extent a matter of choice (from understanding to application; from specific to general; from specific to Jesus; from text to doctrine to objections to resolution of objections to application, etc.). Whatever it is, though, it needs to be followed (any side-tracks should be planned; only a genius can get away with inserting one on the fly).

Luke Isham said...

Great advice Radagast, particularly your comments about a trajectory. Thanks.

Steve Isham said...

Your humble teachable spirit as expressed here is, I expect, your greatest asset in honing your preaching skills.