Monday, 24 March 2008

Sermon series are fun

Over the last four years, while I was in full-time Theological College, I only preached at church occasionally. The talks were inevitably one-off: I'd fit in with someone else's schedule of talks, or do a one-off gap filler... or something like that.
So I'd have to do all the work in putting the Bible passage in the context of its book... and think on how it builds on the previous sections of the book... and sets the foundation for the next section... and the unique message of this passage in light of that context-setting... and all that sort of thing.
That was always exhausting. I was terrified by the thought of having to do that week after week, for Sunday after Sunday. I couldn't understand how people manage it. I was really impressed with them.
This month (March 08), I've been preaching through the last chapters of Matthew, from the garden of Gethsemane, through the cross, to the resurrection and great commission. Unlike when I did one-off talks, I've only had to study the overall context of the Gospel of Matthew once - and it's informed all of my sermons in the series. And as I've studied each passage, the work I've done on the previous passage has been fresh in my mind, and has helped me think about how this passage builds on the previous one. And I've been able to capitalise on what I've been saying in the past weeks - metaphors, stories, particular turns of phrase I've used - and recycle them, for added impact.
So doing a sermon series has been easier - and more fun - than I expected. I've got good feedback from people in the congregation, they've been encouraged - so it must be doing some good.
Only problem is - I'm not in awe of regular weekly preachers any more...

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