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Sounding Out A Sermon

I practice my sermons before I deliver them.

Every day.

I’ve been doing it for as long as I’ve been preaching without notes, which is almost as long as I have been preaching.

And then, while preparing the forthcoming book Simplify The Message & Multiply The Impact (release date: 2.4.20), I realized why:  it’s the value of Sounding Out A Sermon.

Master preacher Fred Craddock coined that phrase as a way of explaining that when you rehearse the message ahead of time, you learn what packs a punch and what lacks it.  You realize, through practice and editing how to put words together in a way that sticks in the ears of your hearers.  

My message on February 24 is a case in point. During a section where I pointed out that Joshua needed a miracle to help him get out of what he never should have gotten in to, I WROTE this:

T The result of all that is that he needs a miracle to help him get out of what he never should have gotten in to.  Anyone like that?  Need a financial miracle to get you out of a debt you racked up?  A relational miracle to rescue a marriage you knew was as bad idea?  A parenting miracle to help those kids you neglected?  Yep, these miracle needs don’t change so much.

Yet while rehearsing, I realized that “a debt you racked up” needs some parallelisms in the next two questions. So I changed from what I had written to what I actually preached:

Need a financial miracle to get you out of a debt you racked up?

A relational miracle to rescue a marriage you messed up?

A parenting miracle to rescue those kids you … roughed up?

The symmetry of the “up” phrases had much greater rhetorical impact than what I had originally written.

And it was sermonic improvement that could only happen as I sounded the sermon out ahead of time.


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