Preaching is hard work. It’s not just the act of preaching that’s hard, but all of the prep that goes into it during the days (and sometimes weeks) leading up to the preaching event. Preaching requires a lifetime of investment!
Recently, I heard Bill Hybels quoted as saying …
Preaching has been the single most vexing activity that I am engaged in, in Christian work. Nothing beats me up or puts me on my knees for longer periods of time, frustrates me more, or creates a greater feeling of dependency on God than preaching and teaching.
My primary spiritual gifts are leadership and preaching. But it can be challenging to have two passions (I tend to have a one-track mind). That tension goes back about twenty-five years. Not long after devoting my life to Christ, I began sensing a call to ministry, specifically, “a call to preach.” But just before I graduated from college, I heard John Maxwell (before he was internationally known as a leadership expert), and I have been a student of leadership ever since.
For many years, I focused on leadership, and preaching took a back seat. That began changing in 2006 when I read Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones (see One-Point Preaching and 5 Years of One-Point Preaching). Transitioning to one-point preaching has been the single biggest transition I’ve made in ministry!
Ironically, the transition to one-point preaching occurred while I was working on a D.Min. program with an emphasis in leadership. When I chose a topic for my dissertation, I tried to unite my passions for leadership and preaching. In my dissertation, I used the term “leader-communicator” and looked at how leader-communicators shape a missional culture through preaching and communication. It was an attempt to unify my passions!
Now, I am in the middle of another major transition in my preaching life (I recently wrote What I’m Learning About Preaching). Whereas the transformation in 2006 was related mostly to sermon structure, this transformation is mostly about sermon preparation.
I’ve always known sermon prep was important, of course (see The 4 Ss of Sermon Preparation); it’s just always been a struggle to prioritize. On top of that, it doesn’t usually take me very long to put a sermon together. But, in recent months, I’ve been increasing the amount of time I spend soaking in and studying the text before putting the sermon together!
A major reason for this transformation is Preaching Rocket, a one-year video coaching program with monthly videos. It’s expensive (I’m grateful for my continuing education fund at Centre Grove!), but it’s an investment in my ongoing preaching development!
I can’t really point to anything specific about the Preaching Rocket program (I was one of the first to sign up nearly a year ago, as a charter member) other than it’s simply an opportunity to focus on my development as a preacher. And, the content is good. In the process, I’m gaining an appreciation for more effective sermon preparation!
Preaching Rocket kicked off last year with a free online conference called “Preach Better Sermons.” It was great (see 5 Takeaways from Preach Better Sermons). The next Preach Better Sermons event takes place tomorrow (May 1). There’s a great lineup of communicators, including Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio, Mark Batterson, and a number of others.
I’m especially looking forward to Nancy Duarte, whose book, Resonate, I’ve blogged about extensively (the last one, with links to the others, was “Resonate”: Bringing it All Together). Duarte’s work has been a significant part of my preaching development (the eight blog posts I wrote about Resonate indicate that!).
Well, you can sign up for the free online preaching conference here. I’m looking forward to it. It’s another opportunity to invest in my preaching (and it’s FREE)!