Sermons that Connect
114 Pages

Sermons that Connect


114 Pages


The task of preparing and delivering a weekly homily can paralyze even the bravest seminarian. Sermons that Connect can help. A simple, nuts-and-bolts guide, it provides new preachers with a simple and effective model for powerful and compelling sermons. It then shows preachers how to flesh out sermons in a simple step-by-step process that is insightful and painless. As a beginner's guide, it provides in one sitting everything someone will need to create meaningful sermons for years to come. For those who have been preaching for a while, it will be equally instructive, helping preachers polish their sermons into even more effective works of art, providing invaluable suggestions for recognizing and articulating the essential elements of good sermons.



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Published 01 May 2011
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EAN13 9781725246607
Language English

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Writing and Preaching Sermons that Connect
A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting and Delivering Powerful, Excellent Sermons
O T H E R B O O K S B Y J O H N R . M A B RY
Growing Into God A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Mysticism
Salvation of the True Rock The Sufi Poetry of Najat Ozkaya
The Kingdom A Berkeley Blackfriars Novel
People of Faith An Interfaith Companion to the Revised Common Lectionary
The Way of Thomas
The Monster God Coming to Terms with the Dark Side of Divinity
Noticing the Divine An Introduction to Interfaith Spiritual Guidance
Faith Styles: Ways People Believe
God Has One Eye The Mystics of the World’s Religions
God is a Great Underground River Articles, Essays, and Homilies on Interfaith Spirituality
I Believe in a God Who is Growing Process Perspectives on the Creed, the Sacraments, and the Christian Life
Who Are the Independent Catholics? (with John P. Plummer)
Crisis and Communion The Re-Mythologization of the Eucharist
Heretics, Mystics & Misfits
God As Nature Sees God A Christian Reading of the Tao Te Ching
Writing and Preaching Sermons that Connect
A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting and Delivering Powerful, Excellent Sermons
B Y J O H N R . M A B RY
R E S O U R C EPublications• Eugene, Oregon
WRITING AND PREACHING SERMONS THAT CONNECT: A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting and Delivering Powerful, Excellent Sermons
Copyright © 2011 John R. Maby. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher. Write: Permissions, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401.
Resource Publications A Division of Wipf and Stock Publishers 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401
ISBN 13: 978-1-61097-378-6
Chapter 1: The Art of the Effective Sermon......13
Chapter 2: The Structure of the Effective Sermon —The Three E’s.....................21 Chapter 3: Finding Your Raw Material —The Three R’s................................................37 Chapter 4: Fine-Tuning Your Sermon ...............53 Chapter 5: Delivering Your Sermon —The Three S’s.................................................61 Final Thoughts..................................................71 Exercises ...........................................................79 Appendices........................................................85
Our culture suffers from a malady unprecedent-ed in human history—one that I’m going to call “connection deficit.” We are increasingly isolated, despite the abundance of people around us. Families are fragmented, childhood friendships rarely survive into adulthood, and churches are shrinking. People feel disconnected from their past, from each other, and from the Divine. The meaning of the word “religion” is “to con-nect again.” One of the great privileges of preach-ing is having an opportunity to help people “con-nect again” with their ancestors, with each other, with their deepest selves, and with the Divine. Unfortunately, when it comes to training minis-ters to use this sacred opportunity skillfully and well, another disconnect often becomes painfully obvious.
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Many seminarians approach the business of preaching with the same disdain most people reserve for sour milk. I teach homiletics, and believe me, I get an earful—and little of it good, when it comes to preaching. I remember when Jan came for our monthly visit, edgy and nervous after a harrowing homiletics class. “I want to be a minister,” she said, “but I hate preaching!” “Why is that?” I asked, drawing her out. “What is it about preaching that you find so distasteful?” She said, “I don’t like to be preached at, and I don’t want to preach at anyone else, either.” I nodded, understanding. I had heard this partic-ular objection many times before. There are others, of course, and in our exploration, Jan got around to a few more of them. Other common complaints I hear include a fear of public speaking, uncertain-ty around what constitutes good sermon construc-tion, and a basic insecurity of the “what could I possibly have to say that would make a difference to anyone” variety. This book is written for Jan, for my other stu-dents—past, present, and future—and for anyone anywhere who would like a clear, simple, and effec-tive primer on preaching sermons that are not just adequate, butexcellent. In this book, I hope you will find an answer to the many objections that Jan raised—and perhaps others unique to you, the reader. Sermons need not be “preachy,” nor do you need to be “inspired” to deliver a sermon that will truly connect with someone. Instead, sermons pro-vide a rare opportunity for us to tap into the deep
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wisdom that we are often unconscious of—the wis-dom of the everyday experience of our lives. This is not a wisdom that tells people what to do or how to think, but it can give us a shared sense of being human that can be instructive for both the preach-er and the listener. In this book we will explore how to mine that wisdom, and how to fashion ser-mons from it that can connect people with their deepest selves, and the Divine.
M A K I N G T H I S B O O K W O R K F O R Y O U This book is, to be sure, not the only model out there. It may not even be the best model out there. There are, after all, as many varieties of sermons as there are preachers out there, and everyone has their own spin on it. But in the eighteen years I have been preaching, this model has proved to be an effective structure and method for me, and for many others that I have taught and advised. As the Buddha told his students, “Listen to my teaching. If it is useful, use it. If it is not useful, dis-card it.” I encourage you to take the same approach, here. This method will be helpful for some people and not helpful for others. Only you can discern what “clicks” with you and what does-n’t. Please follow your instincts. But even if you don’t find everything here useful, you may come away with an insight or two that might strengthen or inform your approach. Because most of the students I teach are studying to be interfaith ministers, I will be speaking in broadly inclusive terms in this book. So whether
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you preach to Jewish congregations, Christians, Sikh assemblies, or eclectic groups, this book might be of some use to you. But since communities of diverse traditions use different words to describe the people who address them, for the purpose of this book I will refer to the one delivering the message as the “preacher,” and those listening as the “listener” in the singular and the “congregation” in the plural. Since these are not necessarily tradition-specific terms, I am hop-ing that you as the reader, will understand what I mean, even if you need to do some internal trans-lating to make for a perfect fit for your own situa-tion or tradition. Different faith communities also use different words to describe their preaching. Evangelical Christians, Jewish Rabbis, and Islamic Imams will often use the word “sermon” to describe the words of wisdom they impart to their congregations. Catholic and many mainline Protestant Christians will often use the word “homily,” while Buddhist teachers give “Dharma talks.” No matter what term or phrase we use, we’re pretty much talking about the same thing: a spiritual leader delivering a structured—and, hopefully, coherent—talk on a spiritual subject to an assembled group of people. For the purpose of this book, I will use the term “sermon,” and, again, leave it to the reader to make any necessary internal translations. Likewise, I will usually refer to “God” as “the Divine,” and will use similarly inclusive language whenever possible. The only exception to this will be in the sermon examples in the Appendices,