I Preached a Sermon. Now What? (with a glimpse into Aaron’s thought process)

This past Sunday evening, I preached a sermon on disappointment, and how grace and forgiveness is so much more beautiful than vengeance.

My creation process for a sermon is a fairly complex one.  There are countless thoughts that flow through my mind from the beginning to the delivery.  I preach portions of the sermon in my head in between all the free moments in my mind.  I spend more time in the Bible than usual, being sure that the passages the sermon is culled from – and the supporting verses to help go deeper – are the right ones for the message.

Then there is the transference of my mind’s thoughts to paper which has always been a fairly hard thing for me.  My mental thoughts are fairly abstract.  I often think in fluid concepts or emotions moreso than I think in actual language and organized thought.  So, while I’m good with language, settling the mind down to actually put it on paper is often a chore.

I often have multiple threads of thoughts going on at a time that all tie in together.  The ebb and flow of such thought always seems much more exciting than linear thought from point a to point b.  I’d rather explore.

So, when composing this sermon I found my mind going through the concept in three ways:

1) The Theology of Sin/Forgiveness/Beauty of Grace

2) The Biblical/Historical Support for Grace from Human to Human

3) My own life

Unfortunately, it’s nigh impossible to communicate three things at once, since we have not mastered ESP.  Instead, I needed to communicate each thread in a linear fashion, then be sure to tie everything up in a bow at the end.

What helped me get there was creating my powerpoint presentation.  By limiting myself to what could be contained visually on the slides, I was able to control the message and flow.  I ended up creating a side-bar to keep fresh the thoughts that came before.

31st Slide

I ended up with 34 slides.  The final portion – practical examples/stories from my life – never made it to the side bar.

I ended up spending probably 3-4 hours on developing the power point from my notes.

So hours of preparation compress into a 35+ minute sermon, and my thoughts and theology were lifted into the air and communicated to a gathering of supportive friends and loved ones.  And, as they say in the story books:

The End.

 

That’s the pain of a pastor, I believe.  Your work and soul floats from vocal chords to the present ears, and then you have no control of it.  You’re done.  You know for sure that no one will dote upon the message for nearly the same amount of time you spent preparing it.  And so, Monday comes… and you don’t know if your child of a message is alive in peoples minds or dead and forgotten.

With messages of the spirit, there’s no way of knowing why any response is what it is.  It could be a moving of the Holy Spirit, or a hardening of a heart.  It could be lack of preparation, or a humanistic talent of charisma and engaging public speaking.

All this to say, teaching/preaching is hard.  Let your pastor know when you agree (or disagree) with their message; doing so at least lets them know you processed it a little bit.  Hug them when they have a bad day, and blog about it when a message really resonates with you.  Pastors put their time, thoughts and theology into messages week after week; they need all the motivation they can get to let their children of words and phrases float on each week, dying on deaf ears or living in our memories.

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One Response to “I Preached a Sermon. Now What? (with a glimpse into Aaron’s thought process)”

  1. Aaron~

    This is right on. One of the things that has always been hard for me is the Monday morning after birth pains. I always wonder if it hit home. I wonder if people really took it to heart or are they just thinking about where to go eat when all is said and done.
    Then Monday comes rolling around and I wonder if they are applying what was said. I’d like to think that when we reach heaven someday that people will let us know. But, even if they do not, when everything has been stated and laid out for everyone, it is good to know that if you have done your work and followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit, something WILL happen. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday we will realize the fruit of our labors.

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