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the pursuit of preaching

I decided to add a new category to my blog — it’s called “Preaching.”  It’s really about how to communicate your message in the most effective way possible.

Since my teenage years, I have been in pursuit of how to preach well.  I joined the speech team in high school and specifically chose Extemporaneous Speaking because it would force me to think on my feet.  You would draw three topics, have one minute to choose a single topic, and then fifteen minutes to research and prepare a five minute talk.

While in high school, I began taking notes of every sermon.  Every Sunday at church I would have my Bible and a notebook.  That was a habit I continued through high school and college.  Not only did it force me to stay awake, but it helped me to see how different preachers developed their messages.

Later I went to college and studied communications from a variety of angles — biblical, business, marketing, education, and more.  As an interdisciplinary major, I had the opportunity to take a wonderful assortment of classes.

Along the way, I have been blessed with a variety of mentors (both those I’ve met and those I’ve only read).  Two personal influences were Brad Carman and Chuck Dorsey.  These men served at my home church and I had the chance to watch them up close.  Both told stories, used humor, and spoke in a way that was different from the preachers I remembered early in life.

“Long distance mentors” included those authors whose books influenced my approach to preaching.  Perhaps the first and largest influence was Fred Craddock.  His book entitled “Preaching” was a communications missile fired directly at me.  His challenge: a good sermon can be summed up in one sentence.  A daunting challenge, as any preacher (or listener) can attest.

Others included “Learning to Preach Like Jesus” by Lewis and Lewis.  From the business world, Roger Ailes wrote a wonderful book called “You are the Message.”

Then just about three years ago I read “Communicating For A Change” by Andy Stanley and my approach to preaching was altered once again.  Gone were the three and four point sermons; instead, I began (and continue) to outline my messages like this:

Me / We / God / You / Us

(I’ll wrote more about this in later posts).

I love the pursuit of preaching.  As one who seeks to communicate eternal truth to people with eternal destinies, I want to do the best job possible.  There is too much hanging in the balance.