“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”—Rwandan Proverb
How do you prepare for a sermon? Do you go into your office, shut the door and spend hours poring over your commentaries? Maybe you read your Bible, take lots of notes and start crafting an outline. If you’re like so many pastors today, Starbucks may play a significant part in your sermon prep.
All these ways of preparing have merit, but do you notice there’s a lot of you in them, and not any us?
Sermons, which are given in the context of community ironically often are forged in isolation. What if there were a way to interrupt that isolation, enrich your messages, and in the process have a lot of fun? Three ordinary pastors in southern California (Darren, Tim and Brandon) have discovered one such way.
For close to two years, we have benefited greatly from doing sermon prep together. Think of sermon prep as hiking. When you’re out on a trail, it helps to have others with you in case you can’t find your step, or (worse) get lost in the woods. “Three heads are better than one.” We had a hunch this little byword would prove true in sermon prep, and it has.
With a hopeful conviction in place, we agreed to set up a weekly conference call to share our sermon ideas and pray for each other. In the process, we have been strengthened, encouraged and enlightened.
Here’s how it works. Once a week, at a pre-determined time, we call in to a free conference line. After briefly checking in with each other, we officially begin our call. Rotating the time keeping, we each have 15 minutes to share. Brandon, for instance, will start with a few comments about where his local church has been and where it’s headed. That larger context sets us up to understand better where this series—specifically this week’s sermon—fits. Immediately after sharing, there’s a time for feedback. We typically start with clarifying questions such as, “What’s your passion point?” “What are you hoping to see in your people as a result of this message?” “What’s your summary of this message in one sentence?’ In addition, we seek to make helpful suggestions and pass along quotes and any useful illustrations that come to mind. In sharing, we sharpen our thinking, and so we call our weekly time Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI).
When you find something that is simple and effective, you want to share it with others. With this in mind, we recommend the following for any who would like to prepare their sermons in community:
– Three seems to be the perfect number for this group. With 15 minutes each, plus check in and closing prayer, the call lasts exactly an hour.
– Have the call earlier in the week rather than later. This allows for a greater openness to input before major decisions about the sermon have been made.
– Each month we rotate the moderator of the call. The moderator keeps time and keeps the sharing on track with a 2-minute warning, as well as decides how we will pray for each other at the close of the call.
We’d love for you to join us and experience this for yourself. Send an email to email@example.com and we’ll schedule a visit.