An article in this issue — “Preaching: Antidote for Trivial Pursuit” by James Means — got me to — thinking about ways in which that game title applies to the work of the preacher.
You’re probably familiar with the game by now. Playing pieces are moved around the board by answering a series of meaningless questions, such as “What former American president and British prime minister were cousins?” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill). Such questions are interesting but don’t really contribute to anything productive (unless you become a contestant on “Jeopardy” some day).
Then it hit me. The one time that preachers are looking for something to fill time without being productive is when they are in the study — supposedly preparing for their next sermon — but can’t get in the mood to sit at the desk and work. At such times, it would be helpful to have some “trivial pursuits” available that don’t take too much time. After all, one can only “kill time” for so long before our preaching and other tasks show the effect of our “crime.”
Some suggestions:
– Count the number of book titles in your library that include the word “of.” (Double credit if it’s used twice.)
– Imagine the magnificent pulpits where you’d surely be serving by now if there wasn’t so much politics involved.
– Write the outline of your autobiography.
– Thumb through People magazine or TV Guide looking for sermon illustrations.
– Search for examples of biblical occupations in your local Yellow Pages.
– Gather all the salespeople’s business cards in your desk and put them in alphabetical order.
– Take all those alphabetized business cards and throw them away. (Don’t worry — salespeople always come back with more).
– Use felt-tip markers to color code your sermon notes. (Red for evangelism sermons; blue for heavy theology; purple for passionate messages; orange for sermons written while on your Florida vacation.)
– Rearrange the piles of paper on your desk.
– Browse through your church membership list and count the number of men who typically sleep during your sermons. (Double credit for women who sleep through your sermons.)
– Jot down lists of alliterations for use in upcoming sermon outlines. (For example: Go, Grow, Glow, Grave, Graze, Great, Gyroscope)
– Search your library for good illustrations on obscure holidays (Secretary’s Day, Groundhog Day, Mother-in-law’s Day, etc.).
– Clean the dust off your commentaries on the Minor Prophets.
– Browse through your past issues of Preaching magazine …
Wait a second! There’s nothing trivial about that!

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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