A blog about everything about teaching the Bible. "And still I will show you a more excellent way..." (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Extend the Sermon

Preaching has been on my mind a lot lately. I've been prayerfully thinking about how to maximize the spiritual impact of a sermon. Preaching brothers, if you're like me, so much heart and effort goes into a sermon, it just doesn't seem like enough to preach it, and maybe podcast it and be done. 

I want to "extend my sermons." Today, journaling about this, I came up with five ways to invite the congregation and visitors to interact with the Sunday morning sermon. Some of these will likely appeal to folks who happen upon the sermon online as well. If any of you preachers decide to do something like this, I encourage you to package it in such a way your hearers, both at home and online, can find all the materials they need. 

Number one, of course, is to podcast it. Since I'm not the usual pulpit guy in the church I serve, I don't post these often, but I podcast just about every sermon I preach, and am sometimes amazed how many people around the world listen to them (services like Podomatic.com provide the tools to track downloads and streams). Make sure the congregation knows how to find your sermon online and encourage them to listen to it again at least once during the week. 

Second, make a "further development" blog post. Nearly all preachers wrestle painfully with their sermons on the cutting floor. It's part of the maturation process to learn how to endure the pain of not being able to say as much as you want (need?) to say. If I'd have learned this earlier I'd have spared my hearers' rear ends a bit of pain, and probably would have been more effective as well. So, take the stuff you decide to cut out for time's sake and blog it. Let the congregation know when it'll go live and encourage them to read and comment as a follow-up to listening.

Three, try a "giving the sermon feet" challenge. You may not want to do this every week, but when the lesson's about something the congregation particularly needs to get up and do, give them a specific scenario. One of my homiletics professors told us we needed to "help the hearers be able to envision themselves doing what the sermon is calling them to do." 

A fourth idea is to have a "lunch with the preacher" session during the week. Invite the congregation to meet at the building one day during the week, brown bag it, and have an open discussion about the week's sermon. Due to work schedules, kids, etc., probably not many of the members will be able to make it, but those who can will have a priceless opportunity to really get a deeper grasp, and have their questions answered personally. 

Finally, prepare a family devo from the sermon material each week and post it online (or send as a mass email) like clockwork at the same time each week. Not only does it extend the life of all the work you put into the sermon a little longer, but it'll give the families in the church something they desperately need: some good material to sit down and study together at home. You'll strengthen the families in the church, and so strengthen the church.

What ideas do you have?

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