Monday, October 24, 2011

Processing Preaching

This summer I preached at my church for the first time in about three-and-a-half years.  That was months ago, and I’m still processing: 
First, I enjoy writing.  So, I enjoyed writing my message.  I practiced it in front of other preachers at my church, and they made suggestions.  I also had my own gut instincts.  So I did something I’ve never done before—I edited, extensively.  I re-wrote, and then re-wrote again, although the feedback over my practice run through was quite good.  Now, as a student, I always finished writing papers the morning they were due.  I planned to finish 2-3 hours before the paper was due.  I’d finish.  I’d nap for an hour or two, and then I’d get up and turn in said paper.  I never proofread, much less edited.  I knew there’d be some typos and maybe wrong words, but I also knew those mistakes would be too few to drop my grade.  So, I had never really edited anything I’d written before.  It was a good experience.
Second, I enjoy being on stage, but I’d forgotten that.  I danced a lot as a high school student, and one of my hallmarks was a fun, energetic, sassy persona.  Put me in a flapper costume and some tap shoes, and I’m good.  Put me in a tutu and ask me to put on a pleasant, but neither smiling nor serious face, and I’m in trouble.  So, I was terrified to approach the stage.  Then I got on it.  Then I spent five minutes on it, and I was having a great time. 
Third, I’ve written before about how “safe” a person I am.  There’s not a risk-taking bone in my body.  A band of students and former students from my student ministry led worship the day I preached, and that made me proud and joyful and comfortable.  They sang a song with a line, “Let’s risk the ocean; there’s only grace.  Where you go we will follow; I’m on my knees.  Where you go we will follow; O God, send me.”  That song had become a staple on a student mission trip to Macedonia just weeks earlier.  As I heard the song, I thought about the teenagers and college students who went on that trip, about the adults who led it, about the parents who nervously stayed stateside.  And I thought, “If they can literally risk the ocean, then I can risk a 25-minute sermon.”
I also had a husband who told me the night before the big day, “You know this sermon more than you think you do.  Deliver it.  Go for the jokes; they’re funny; people will laugh.  Don’t look at your notes; you don’t need them.”  Going for jokes and not looking at my notes were scary ideas to me.  I have to feel very safe to crack a joke; that is a vulnerable experience for me.  Not looking at my notes could mean getting very off track, and that scared me.
But, I listened to my husband, and I listened to the voice telling me it wasn’t a flight over the Atlantic; it was a sermon, and it would be over in 25 minutes—for better or worse.
I went for the jokes, and they worked.
I didn’t look at my notes much, and it worked.  In fact, I can still recite whole paragraphs from that sermon.  My husband was right; I did know it well.
Nail #56--I'm thankful for this experience.

1 comment:

  1. I sat in on PCC 101 this week and at least 4 of the people there attended PCC for the first time on the Sunday you preached. They all said that while they were expecting the senior pastor, your preaching was a primary cause for them to return. God used you that day to lead people closer to Him!