17 February 2008

The Longer they are, the harder they are to write

For the past eight years I have operated with the assumption that shorter sermons are harder to write than shorter ones.  This assumption states that it is harder to reduce an complicated idea down to its essentials than it is to expand.  Over the past few weeks I have experimented with longer sermons, 2100+ words (usual 15 minute sermon is around 1200 words), and I think it is harder to elaborate than it is to be brief - when it comes to biblical sermons.  

It is, however, easier to hold the attention of folk with shorter sermons than it is with shorter sermons.  I have noticed folk squirm in their chairs like they never have before over the past few weeks.  I struggled with this concept while going over the 3rd draft of the sermon on Saturday night.  Then I thought about breaking the sermon up into three parts, rearranging it and presenting almost as three short episodes.  I think this will work but did not this morning - I needed this idea to emerge on Wednesday not Saturday.  I will use it, nevertheless, this coming week.   

The other challenge has been the operating questions behind the sermon: What is the purpose of preaching?  What do I want folk to experience/discover?  What questions really grabbed me?  Or over the course of the month what message do I want to convey to folk?  

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