Some things are interesting. Some things are boring. It’s just that we don’t always agree on which is which.
Take preaching for example. I’m presently studying at Moore College and get to read lots of books. Big books. Big theological books. Big theological books that I find interesting.
And that’s the problem.
As great as College is, it takes you out of the “real world” and surrounds you with a bunch of geeks. Nice geeks. Godly geeks. Great geeks, but geeks none the less. We’re not your average breed.
So how does a geek speak to non-geeks without boring the pants off them? Well I probably don’t always succeed, but here’s how I try:
When preparing for a sermon, I try to break up my ideas into three levels.
1. Essential Information- the big idea. This is the stuff that everyone needs to know. Even if people don’t think it’s interesting, they should, and I will labour to show them why. This stuff preaches. It’s God’s truth applied to people’s lives.
2. Helpful Information- how I got the big idea. This anchors the essential information in the Biblical text. It proves that the big idea is God’s message and not mine. In essence, it shows why the essential information is actually essential!
3. Additional Information- supplementary to the big idea. This is usually the stuff that me and my geek friends froth over. We go sick for it. “Check out this Old Testament allusion.” “Check out this word in the Hebrew.” “Guess what Karl Barth thought of this.”
Categorizing my ideas into three levels helps me to figure out what to include and what to leave out. You may have heard the phrase “the best bits of your sermon are left on the cutting room floor.” They’re talking about Level 3.
Give yourself permission to leave it out.
For evangelistic talks, I stick with Level 1. For everything else, it’s pretty much a case of figuring out how much of Level 2 to include. Suss out your audience and go from there.
Question: Can you think of additional levels? What’s your method for pruning sermons so that they’re non-geek friendly? Leave a comment by clicking here.