Sermon Prep in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

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How the Trinity is reshaping my preaching.

Like many young pastors, I spent my early years of ministry torturing audiences through endless experiments with my preaching. I had been to seminary, listened to hundreds of sermons, read plenty of books, and learned about expository, topical, Christ-centered, and Spirit-empowered preaching. I knew about the need for both study and unction. When I entered the academy, I reiterated these same lessons in my preaching courses. And yet, inwardly, I knew there remained a wide chasm for me between mastering the mechanics of crafting sermons and truly serving as a translator between God and his church. As John Koessler writes in Folly, Grace, and Power, “Those who preach break God’s silence.” Most weeks, I was just trying to make it until next Monday.

The first sermon I preached was at the fledgling church plant I helped launch in a bar. In this context, my preaching moved from the theoretical banter of a classroom to the anxiety-inducing reality of standing before people who are dying to hear from God. In these initial years of ministry, my preaching preparation began—and often ended—with my eyes and ears directed toward the culture around me. Significant time spent in prayer and study seemed a luxury reserved for large churches with large staffs. Instead, my sermon series were often formed around summer blockbusters, bestseller lists, and TV ratings. In an attempt to create messages that kept people entertained, I picked from the low-hanging fruit and ended up using pulpit time each week to merely baptize cultural consumption rather than to illuminate the Word of God.

Deeper Communion

With these familiar siren songs exposed and found wanting, I began to increasingly realize the weight of Heinrich Bullinger’s …

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