Preaching on the Run: Toward Simpler Way to Prepare

What Chris Erdmans writes here is so liberating and real …. allow me to lift up some paragraphs …

I’d learned somewhere along the way that a good pastor spent his (and it was always “his”) mornings in exegesis and study, and his afternoons in calling and other administrative tasks. And a good pastor could not possibly preach on Sundays without spending at least 20 hours in this work–solid exegesis and the writing of a quality sermon. Hey, that wasn’t my life, no matter how much I tried to live up to it and no matter how I loathed myself for my failures. Maybe this just makes public my neuroses, but I’ve a sense that there are a whole lot of others who live under this kind of tyranny. And that’s true not just for mainline preachers, but those who are bullied by the requirements of Fundamentalist certitude as well as those wowed by the communication excellence of the nation’s mega-church superstars.

“If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly. Just do it.” Colin Brown’s words spoke to me of something real, a preacher’s discipleship for those weeks when a family-in-crisis, a staff conflict, and a weekend wedding all mean I can’t do what I once thought I had to do during the week to be a good preacher. “A little exegetical method for preachers on the run.” Walter Brueggemann’s words describe my life and I think are much more consistent with the way I read the Bible’s way of describing the preaching task. With prophets and apostles and Jesus too, it’s always done on the run.

Preaching is something lived. It comes out of who we are. Our task is simply to stay close to the text, stay close to who we are as a witnesses to Jesus Christ (in all of our unique and God-breathed mystery and strength and necessity), and stay close to my people among whom I am send to host this text week in and week out. I can do that on the run. And if I do, it’s always good–even if the message won’t ever appear in “Preaching Today.” I’ve come to believe that maybe it’s good precisely because my sermon won’t be printed in a book or recorded on a CD.

Now when my students ask, “How long does your sermon preparation take?” I answer, “A lifetime. No less, no more.”

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