The Church Times is talking about preaching this week. The College of Preachers (of which I am a paid-up member, don’t you know?) commissioned a study into preaching at various denominations.
17% said that they frequently heard sermons that made them change their lifestyles. In my humble experience, whenever one is tempted to have someone in mind when writing such a sermon they invariably don’t turn up that week.
97% said that they looked forward to the sermon each week and 84% agreed that they should be closely connected with the bible. 55% said their knowledge of Jesus was frequently improved by sermons. But only 16% said that sermons helped them to understand events in the news or controversial issues. (Anglicans came off a wee bit better in that one.)
It has made me think about my own preaching style which varies from week to week. Sometimes it is more of a story telling time with wisdom stories from all faiths being used as a tool. Sometimes it is much more imaginative, getting into the story by imagining I am there. Sometimes it is focussed completely on one phrase which has caught my eye. Sometimes there is a bit more history and theology and maybe feels more like teaching. And often the type of sermon depends on the amount of time I have to prepare. Don’t we all wish we could hearken back to those days when the priest spent every morning reading and writing his sermon and every afternoon visiting?
Of course, we didn’t really get taught how to preach. When I was at Tisec I think there was one session on it. (40 mins) Because of this I did opt for a course on Homiletics (the study of preaching) at University but it was more theory than practice. This may explain why I joined the College of Preachers! Unfortunately most of their courses are down south and not easy to attend but they recently had a fabulous day in Edinburgh which made me promise myself I’d spend more time in preparation, fired with some great ideas. I managed it once!
I do remember a few really good sermons. Not as many as I would like, however. The ones that paint pictures work well for me. I don’t hear many of them. But then, I’m a visual person. And I don’t get to hear many sermons these days.
So, my question today is… what style of preaching do you prefer? Can you recall a memorable sermon which has stuck with you? Do you ever feel challenged to go out and look at the world differently or to live differently?
Over to you…