Thursday, June 11, 2009

FINAL: 7 Preaching Discoveries in 7 Years (#6: Be Brief)


See all 7 Discoveries HERE.

1. POSITIVE IS THE NEW BLACK
2. ASK ONE QUESTION, OR EXPLORE ONE ISSUE
3. MAKE YOUR POINTS ACTUAL POINTS
4. WE NEED TO OPEN DOORS, NOT CLOSE THEM

Learn brevity *before* you embark on 40+ minute sermon.

I say this with some regrets. I used to preach for 40+ minutes, and would complain that I didn't have enough time to really explore the issues of the text. I am seriously OK about preaching for 40 minutes, as long as there is 40 minutes of things worth saying. The way to know if there is 40 minutes of sermon is to first preach it in 20 minutes. Or less.

At my church, God has arranged it so that at 8:30AM I *have* to be speak for less than 20 minutes (or the musicians for 10AM don't get to practice). A mercy on all. It is the 8.30AM sermon that forces the 10AM sermon to be a better one.

Try making your sermon 20 minutes. Make it a valuable 20 minutes. (Or less!) Then and only then add things that make it longer, if you think it necessary. You can make it an hour if you like, but only if you can first do it for a shorter time.

Learn from Abraham Lincoln.

(Or have a read of someone called xposeoffseason on the PROS and CONS of Brevity.)

Got some sundry thoughts about what I think I need to learn next. We'll see how we go...

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Pic on Flickr by andertho.

12 comments:

Matthew Moffitt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Moffitt said...

The Gettysburg address is the classic example isn't it. (Thank you West Wing).

Justin said...

I'm pretty sure the West Wing wasn't built in Abe's time...

:)

(was there an episode on the G address?)

gbroughto said...

along the same lines, one of the more difficult assigments I had to complete was a term paper for Miroslav Volf that could be no more than 3 pages (600 odd words). An entire semester's worth of reading. lecturing and exploring in 3 pages??? The self-discipline required was extraordinary... and as Volf advised, it involved writing the standard 16-18 page paper first, and then agonising over and being ruthless with every word.

I have tried to continue that into my preaching and writing today...

Matthew Moffitt said...

There are several episodes where the G address is held up as the address all presidential speeches (i.e. State of the Unions) should aspire to, particularly because of it's brevity.

Mark said...

Good to hear "you're into the whole brevity thing" Justin!

rd said...

Economy of words - a very underrated skill, heh?!?

Justin said...

I would have thought so. What do you think, rd?

rd said...

Totally.

Justin said...

I need to learn as much as anyone!

Finite Rex said...

I'm sorry your limited to 20 minutes. It's hard -- especially for a teacher like you. I know I've enjoyed your sermons. Both Richard and I really enjoyed your sermons on irony in John. However, I understand limitations. Pray for wisdom to and know that it really is the Spirit that uses your words.

Watcher said...

I'm glad you've opened this topic. I've attempted to do a response as a sermon listener here.