Novel Authors and Sermon Preparation

In many of the other sermon patterns, we looked at approaches to structure a sermon. However, this pattern is a way of sermon preparation. How do you go about preparing a sermon? This method attempts to follow a method much like that which many novelists use.

The Novelists Approach

An author typically begins with some basic ideas and feelings about the characters, settings, and plot of the novel. Sometimes the author will sketch out a plot and then begin writing. As the author writes, however, the story takes on a mind of its own. The characters interact in unforeseen ways. The settings change to bring out different aspects of a character. Often the final product is much different than that which the author originally had in mind.

Mimicking the Novelist

The preacher might use a method much like the novelist. Jana Childers provides an interesting approach that seems to mimic the novelist. She takes 25 minutes and writes down her thoughts, images, questions, and feelings about the subject of the sermon. She follows three rules in these sessions:

  1. Write with pen or pencil
  2. Write without stopping
  3. Fill at least 3 pages.

This methodology sometimes provides seed ideas or nuggets, but at least it helps her get into the sermon.

Then presumably as you do your exegesis of the text you will allow the materials to come together into a sermon.

Sermon Emerging

The key is that a sermon emerges from the material. Just as the story emerges from the novelist. However the preacher must at some point step back and make sure that the sermon that emerges is a good witness to the gospel. The preacher also should make sure that the creativity in the sermon doesn’t detract from the gospel

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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