Ann Patchett & The Art Of Sermonating

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that I’m an enormous fan of the fiction of Ann PatchettState Of Wonder and Bel Canto are two of the most beautiful and most engaging novels I’ve read in years.


In The Getaway Car, a little e-reader memoir where she gives readers a window into her writing, Patchett says this:

Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means to to get to the art, you must master the craft.


In Patchett’s world, that means authors who yearn to write great novels must write.  And write.  And write.  Only when the craft of writing is down does the art of a novel — a good one — emerge.

As I have mentioned before, an effective sermon works along the same lines as a song — verse, chorus, verse, chorus.  In other words, it is in some respects a work of art.

How, then, does a preacher get to the place where his or her sermon can operate on the level of art?

By mastering the craft.  By preparing, praying, and preaching.  And then doing it again.

When the congregation appears uninterested.  Preparing, praying, preaching.

When the congregation is oppositional.  Doesn’t appear oppositional; it is oppositional.  Preparing, praying, preaching.

When the congregation is hurting.  Preparing, praying, preaching.

When the congregation is, blessedly, hungry for the next word from God.  Preparing, praying, preaching.

When the congregation is at the crest of a wave and the momentum is inescapable.  Preparing, praying, preaching.

Do it enough, do it relentlessly, and every once in awhile what comes out on a Sunday morning will be even more than a sermon; it will be a work of God-honoring and God-inspired art.