Unofficial rules of the sermon

I have a some unofficial rules of the sermon. Here are a few:

  1. Never talk about the process of writing the sermon explicitly in the sermon.
  2. If you’re going to explain something about the Greek or Hebrew word, do it in such a way that people don’t notice you’re talking about the Greek or Hebrew word.
  3. Same as #2 regarding theological terms. (In other words, talk theology, but define unclear terms not by saying, “The definition is…” but by writing beautiful sentences that describe it.)
  4. Don’t use the sermon as a platform to validate your sense of calling.

There are more rules, some that I’m not sure I can articulate yet, but 10 years after taking my first preaching class, these are some of the ones I know I try to abide by.

On Sunday, I think I’m going to completely and totally smash #1 to pieces. I’m guest preaching at the congregation that might well be most important in teaching me how to preach (Hope CRC where I did my internship in 2002-03). And the only way I can figure out how to structure this one is by talking about the process of writing it and the actual structure.

I’m not sure this is a good portent for the sermon. I think this might work. I’d rather not second guess myself because I don’t want to write the thing twice. Then again, Thursday and Fridays and Saturdays before I preach are always low points for me. We’ll see.

(Come, Holy Spirit…)

2 Responses to “Unofficial rules of the sermon”

  1. ppb Says:

    I guess I disagree with rule #1–though I don’t disagree with the others.
    I think sometimes sermons about the process take us all to a unique place of understanding about how one gets to a particular exegetical point. But my rule is this: use this sparingly—like once a year, tops. And sermons that WHINE about the process–nope.

    Good luck with the sermon. I think you’re allowed the once a year exception.

  2. Erica Says:

    I’m hoping it’ll be a once in every 5 year exception.