Behind the Sermon | Everybody is a Neighbor

Behind the Sermon | Everybody is a Neighbor

I’ve started a new experiment. I’ve been thinking of vlogging these last few weeks, and ultimately, after pouring over youtube, realized I wanted to start working through an honest week of sermon writing. I couldn’t find pastors regularly vlogging, so I am curious how this all works out.

So without any added fanfare, here’s the first episode of Behind the Sermon. If you dig it, please subscribe on youtube.

 

 

And here is the sermon this week produced.

 

Productive Pastor Preaching Playlist

Productive Pastor Preaching Playlist

It’s the Productive Pastor Preaching Playlist (say that 4 times quickly)!

Before everyone begins traveling for the holiday season I wanted to put together episodes of similar content in an easy style for you to listen while traveling and to condense topics together. Here are all of the Productive Pastor episodes on preaching.

Preaching Playlist

Episode 17: Why You Need A Production Calendar

There are three reasons production calendars can help you in your minstry.

  1. They help you see the big picture.
  2. The content is right in front of you.
  3. You and your ministry are consistently and steadily moving forward.

Episode 20: 5 Keys To Effective Sermon Preparation

  1. Read.
  2. Have a holding tank.
  3. Have a preaching calendar
  4. Ask others
  5. Find/Build and stick to a preparation rhythm

Episode 21: Sermonsmith and John Chandler

John runs a fantastic podcast called SermonSmith. He sits down and shares what he has learned interviewing dozens of pastors about their preparation process.

Episode 38: Using Monday Moments For Better Preaching

Monday Moments help us develop many different parts of our sermons. They affect the visuals, how we plan our messages and how we preach. They give us a guiding center (alongside our guiding text for the day). They help us develop repetition and focus in how we preach. They give people a literal phrase to repeat as they contemplate the message.Using a Monday Moment is a key preparation AND presentation device. It will help you plan and communicate better. The moment will help the people in your pews better internalize the message and remember it throughout the week.

Episode 39: John Jay Alvaro and a Visual Homiletic

We talk about the visual process of sermon delivery John Jay practices and how he found his way to it. We talk about what it means for a congregation to give their pastor the space to find new ways to communicate. Ultimately, this isn’t about a delivery tactic, but instead a process of public creativity and holy presentation.

Episode 40: Creating A Sermon Preparation Calendar

Many times I hear from people about their desire to have more time to plan and prepare ahead in regards to preaching. This episode I want to share with you a way you can create a whole year vision for preaching, stay on top of things AND still have time for the rest of ministry.

Remember, the things we feel we don’t have time for are often the things we don’t have the time to NOT do.

PP 38: Using Monday Moments for Better Preaching

PP 38: Using Monday Moments for Better Preaching

Welcome to the 38th episode of the Productive Pastor. It’s a great, jam-packed time!

This week I am sharing part of my “Sermons That Have Reach” content. If you have using my sermon planning worksheet or have listened to the podcast for very long, you have heard me talk about a “Big Idea” or a similar concept. The Monday Moment takes this strategy and amplifies it.

Front End
1. The Art of the Sermon
It was a privilege to be part of this great new podcast and to be one of the guests on it’s launch episodes. Dan is developing some great content. Productive Pastor listener, Rev. Brian Johnson, shares a great video on using NOZBE. Check it out here.

2.Threshing Floor Episode 50. I host this podcast with two of my best friends. We are hitting our 50th episode next week-it will be featuring JD Walt, sower-in-chief of Seedbed.

3. Productive Pastor InsiderEvernote, Death and Text-Messaging.

Using Monday Moments for Better Preaching

Monday Moments help us develop many different parts of our sermons. They affect the visuals, how we plan our messages and how we preach. They give us a guiding center (alongside our guiding text for the day). They help us develop repetition and focus in how we preach. They give people a literal phrase to repeat as they contemplate the message.Using a Monday Moment is a key preparation AND presentation device. It will help you plan and communicate better. The moment will help the people in your pews better internalize the message and remember it throughout the week.

The Preparation Pyramid 

Think of this as a pyramid, with 4 floors.

Basement: Larger Biblical Truth
1st Floor: How Does Scripture Emphasis This?
2nd Floor: What Is The Intended Response?
Attic: How Do I Best Articulate This IN Communication?

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I hope this introduction to Monday Moments will help you gain clarity over your preparation and communication. It is such an amazing tool.

Resources Mentioned:
Communicating For A Change: Andy Stanley

The Rocket Company Preaching Rocket

How To Write A Killer Bottom Line: Carey Nieuwhof

Sermons That Have Reach Early Bird List

 

3 Resources to Add Spark to Your Sermons

3 Resources to Add Spark to Your Sermons

 

Does preaching every get dull to you? Better yet, do you feel your sermons are making folks a little too comfortable in the pews? Here are 3 of my top posts on preaching to help you remix things up a little. Each one of them is a little different, from the practical to the unorthodox (with a little non-traditional preaching environment mixed in). The biggest tip I have found to keep your sermons running great is to always be working on making them better!

3 Resources to Add Spark to Your Sermons

serial podcast

3 Things the Church can learn from the Serial Podcast.
Did you get sucked into Serial last year? We certainly did. One of the best things about Serial is how it showed a dramatic amount of social change-and this is good for preachers and anyone else who is a narrative communicator.

These 3 things make us ask these two questions:
1. How can my church create or adapt a content strategy influenced by power watching/listening and the consumption of narrative media.
2. Do we speak the communication language of Generation X and the Millennials or are we still directing our digital media towards the style of engagement created by older generations.

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Productive Pastor 20: 5 Keys to Effective Sermon Preparation
How do you prepare a sermon well? There are plenty of ways. These are the five tips I like to give people.
1. Read
2. Have a Holding Tank
3. Have a Preaching Calendar
4. Ask Others
5. Find/Build a Preparation Rhythm.

retreatimage

Teaching a Retreat? Here’s How I Plan
Have you ever taught for a retreat? Or maybe preached a quick succession of sermons?

Prepping for these type events can be stressful or it can be really cool. Let me clue you in on a few tips and ideas. Many of these will also work for planning an entire season of preaching…although since folks are hearing them several days apart you won’t get the level of familiarity.

3 Things the Church Can Learn from the Serial Podcast

3 Things the Church Can Learn from the Serial Podcast

At the end of 2014, Meredith and I traveled. We probably spent close to 20 hours in the car driving. Both of us love podcasts and we decided to power listen to Serial, the breakout podcast hit of the fall.

If you aren’t familiar with Serial yet, it is a long form, narrative style podcast from the This American Life family. In 12 episodes it told the story of a murder suspect and the crime information that didn’t necessarily match up. The New Yorker called Serial “the Podcast to end all podcasts.”

It was a break out hit and one of the most innovative pieces of media in 2014. There are several lessons the church can learn from the podcast. I think now is the time for any local church to begin learning some lessons from new media.

3 Things Churches Can Learn from the Serial Podcast

1. The new media critical mass has been reached.
For the last 10 years people have slowly been learning to get news, build opinions and discuss things in alternative ways. According to Everertt Rodgers’ research Diffusion of Innovation, we have reached critical mass. New media has reached the late majority level. This means the average amount of persons might not have actually engaged in a tremendous amount of new media communication styles, but they are familiar enough with them to hit mainstream. The more narrative, people based storytelling is now accepted and understood easily (rather than tolerated and confused). The 20th century was primarily a knowledge based society. In many ways it was the apex of the last 500 years of a new system of innovation begun with printing press.

If we look at communication development, the last 5 years have been a shift of innovation away from knowledge/information and back towards narrative as the dominate holder of truth. This written -> oral cultural shift doesn’t downgrade knowledge…but instead shows a development of both together. The storyteller no longer is simply a transmitter of previous information, but now holds authority by not just the truthfulness they tell…but how they tell it.

This means people have now changed the way they digest and listen to media. Think of the communication potential your church now has. Instead of reaching people living inside a knowledge based culture,we have to shift to a narrative based. But isn’t that what the gospel really is? The story of many people being reconciled to the Father, through the sacrifice of His Son and then grasped and empowered by the Holy Spirit?

2. Podcasts have now reached mainstream
Podcasts have been around for 10 years in some medium or the other. Apple iTunes has had podcast delivery built in since 2005. Even though it was almost 9 years ago, this was the first step in accessibility. In the last 5 years, the technology for listening to podcasts has changed dramatically. With the advent of smartphones (and the iPhones ability to download/stream podcasts natively) the accessibility was easier than ever before. In the past, you had to search through the store, download to iTunes and then upload the podcast to your iPod.

Serial broke iTunes download records. They reached 5 million downloads quicker than any other podcast. 15% of our population has listened to a podcast in the last month. People are moving towards podcasts as a primary source of information and entertainment. The hardest part about a podcast is finding the best way to listen.

In the last 10 years, vehicles have slowly started making connecting an auxiliary device to the stereo easier. At first it was auxiliary jacks and now it is bluetooth. I don’t think I have had a rental car in the last 5 years that doesn’t have the ability to route my iPhone audio through the speaker.

This makes it easy for your church to distribute content.

Instead of the old tape or cd based ministry, which necessitated changing delivery systems (tapes or CD’s), listeners now have the content at the same place everywhere. They can start and stop with ease.  The average commute is 25.4 minutes.

Podcast technology means your ministry can reach listeners who can subscribe to regular content and listen to it anywhere.And the average person now has everything they need to engage with your content and is probably familiar. Churches have used RSS (podcast code) technology for years to deliver sermons…but that is just the beginning. Read  “What’s Behind the Greatest Podcast Renaissance” and think about how you can take advantage of this medium

3. How Serial changed everything (in a great way).

Serial changed everything. Or maybe we can say it served as the example of the great change that has been happening over the last 2 years as far as podcasts are concerned. I have podcaster off and on for 10 years. For 8 of those it was a total bust. Getting 10 downloads was a success. No one knew how, knew what or knew why podcasts were great. It was a total niche movement.

But it was worth sticking with. Apple sat on it for years before it hit mainstream.

Serial showed us how everything changed.

It was a distinctly Generation X/ Millennial product. With the crime in Serial occurring in 1999, there are plenty of cultural references.

Sarah Koenig, the host and primary investigator speaks of adolescence not as a statistical fact, but as something mainstream.* It shows a completely perfect example of a secular moral structure…with casual drug use and sexuality on a sliding scale of acceptability. Language isn’t edited out. One particular person involved coined a phrase used through out the show featuring the F-bomb. It was referenced countless times throughout the show. Unedited. No apologies. Besides the moral framework, the style of reporting this has completely changed. It is no longer a disapproving adult, but instead someone who remembers (and even identifies) with the subjects. I can’t imagine Barbara Walters doing this style of reporting.

Serial also served as an amazing example of power listening. We have been familiar with power watching, the practice of back to back viewings of entire television seasons, ever since DVD sets became affordable. Netflix, and other streaming services, have made this a regular part of life.

Serial was the first podcast to seriously look at power listening. People would plan out blocks of time (the holiday season was perfect…because the show had just ended) to listen to the entire 12 episode season.

So ask yourselves this. Are you in the content business or the sermon business?** The church has used technological advances for years in media. If fact, it’s one of the areas we have done really well in.

I think this gives us two questions to ask ourselves.

1. How can my church create or adapt a content strategy influenced by power watching/listening and the consumption of narrative media.
2. Do we speak the communication language of Generation X and the Millennials or are we still directing our digital media towards the style of engagement created by older generations.

Serial has been a great example of the tipping point of new media and any church leader needs to be asking these questions.

*Note. I don’t agree with the information below-but it’s of the utmost sociological importance.
**But let’s think about what a sermon is. It’s an intentional packaging and communication of the Story of God. For me, the basic assumption of preaching/sermonizing is the assumption and goal of a person being affected and making intentional decisions because of the word of God. The lines between the sermon and content are decently blurry.

My Sermon Workflow

sermon workflow

Let me share with you the sermon workflow I have developed over the last few years. It has been extremely helpful and gives me plenty of time to work on sermons throughout the week and ALWAYS be done on Thursday. I then get a day off (Friday) without stressing about my sermon and an almost free Saturday. I started developing this system with the help of Preaching Rocket.

I do most of my sermon work the week of, with some pre-work allowing me to maximize my week of time. Here is what happens in this “pre” phase.

My Sermon Workflow
Before the week of:

I work on all of my sermons utilizing Evernote. I keep one note with a broad list of titles/scriptures/series ideas and anything else. Whenever a sermon makes it into the calendar, it get’s a note all to itself. If it is part of a series, the series gets a note as well. This way I can sketch out the big theme (and all the marketing, images and anything else) looking at all the texts/titles together.

The benefit of this system is huge. These notes serve as a dumping ground. Whenever I come across anything that might be useful, I can simply drop it into the note and forget about it.

When I am 2-3 weeks out from starting a series I start working through the big idea, getting the titles and texts organized in a good flow. I look through any potential resources. I also try to figure out the “big ideas” before I jump into weekly prep. All this allows the series to flow and interact well with the other messages. I didn’t always do this and it was pretty scattered.

Week of:

Sunday:
During my usual weekly review I finish with some light sermon prep. I read the passage a few times and pray through what I want to tell people and ask them to do. I start filling out my sermon worksheet (this is my secret weapon and you can get it for free here) at this time. It might just be a few details or it might be even farther out.

Monday:
During the morning I spend about 1.5 hours on my sermon. I do it pretty early in the morning when my creative juices are flowing. I read through the passage a few more times and ask questions of the text. I pray about what God is asking us to do at the end.

In the afternoon I take a final 30 minutes with the passage and my worksheet. At this time I want to have the first draft of my big idea done. All of the structural elements are completed (big idea, the ask and the intended response).

Tuesday:
This is exegesis day. I generally give around 3-4 hours to this task, usually in the afternoon. I read through the passage a few more times. If any words or concepts look really important I notate it down. I write down any questions I have as I read through the passage. If I feel the need to do any translation, I do it here.

After I feel I have spent a good bit of time in the text on my own I go to commentaries and dictionaries. I try to answer any questions I have, fill in some gaps for historical data and any relationships this passage has with others. I am just dumping any information that I think might help out. I use post-it notes for much of this and build a HUGE pile of them. Sometimes I have to chart out movements or other linguistic stuff.

I don’t organize any of this, just get it all in front of me. Once I am done with this process, I look back at my sermon sheet and get rid of any information that doesn’t help me support the big idea. I pray through this process as well. I have been known to trash my sheet and refill it out at this moment.

The last thing I do is make a narrative map of the sermon. If you are familiar with mind mapping-this is pretty similar.

Wednesday:
This is my main writing day. I usually give 6 hours to sermon work on Wednesday.

I start working through all of the information and organize it into a logical flow. I start broad and slowly start working my way down. The post-its come in handy because I can always rearrange things. I write down illustration ideas on their own post-it and put them into the workflow as well. I also start building my ideas for my images/slides. They get their own color of post-it and live above the larger timeline (I build this on the wall going horizontal).

Once I feel the shape is getting pretty good I write a draft. This draft is ROUGH. I usually immediately read it out loud to myself and fix the problem areas. If I need to get back into the text to make sure something isn’t just me saying it, I will go back and do it at this point.

After I have edited the first draft I will read it aloud to myself again this time. I notate any places change needs to happen. Usually, these are illustrations.

I draw out how my slides will support the sermon and aid the congregation in listening and processing.

Thursday:
Mid-morning on thursday I write my final draft. I look over any of the notes I made on the last draft on Wednesday. Sometimes I will preach it aloud again before starting on my final draft. After the final draft is complete I will read it aloud 2 more times. I will spend 30 minutes or so working on my slides. I will preach the final draft once more with the slides. I control them from my iPad (where my manuscript is also), so I can do this with just my laptop. No need to fire up the whole projection system.

I write the sermon preview at this point and put it up on my blog.

Usually this is done by 2 on Thursday afternoon so I can spend the rest of the day tying up loose ends before I take my day off.

Friday:
Nothing. I don’t touch my sermon.

Saturday:
My wife goes to bed early. After she hits the sack on Saturday I preach through my sermon 2 more times. By this point, I am familiar with it and this is simply a run through to make sure everything still makes sense. I do a very minimal amount of editing at this point.

Sunday:
I wake up at 5 on Sunday morning. I read through my sermon once, just a quick flow through to make sure it is on the top of my head.

I hope sharing my workflow has been helpful for you. It helps me preach better sermons as well as be mentally prepared to preach on Sunday. I am never worn out because of a late Saturday evening sermon session!

Related Posts:
My Sermon Planning Worksheet
My Favorite Resources for Modern Preaching
Teaching a Retreat? This is How I Plan