The Leadership Journal has a fascinating web-only piece by Eric Flood, called “The People-Powered Pulpit.” The article is about preparing sermons, not merely in solitude with the Lord, but in collaboration with others.
I have been thinking about this very topic lately, as I have been meeting about once a month with a couple of men to study Genesis. During our last meeting, we shared insights into the text we had been studying. We took one text (Gen 3) and all gave insights on it, and we each took an additional text particular to ourselves and shared our study results of it (one took Gen 4-5, one took 6-9, and I took Gen 10-11). For next time, we are preparing lessons from our particular texts, and sharing them before we present them, so we can get some feedback from one another.
I’ve heard a lot about evaluation and critiquing sermons after the fact, but collaborating beforehand can be just as valuable. Others may notice an obvious & important implication of the preaching text the preacher somehow glossed over. He may receive helpful feedback on a sensitive way to communicate the message. Someone may have a quote that perfectly encapsulates one of the points. He may be able to correct a major error in interpretation.
Here are a few suggestions about getting started with this idea.
Why not schedule a time to meet at least once a week to pray over and discuss the preparation for those preaching in the coming week? Whoever will be delivering a message could benefit from such a time. The preacher may also want to take the suggestions for the solo pastor as well.
Solo Pastors & Pulpit Supply
So you don’t have “staff” to meet with… why not find a mentor pastor, a Christian friend, your wife… even an interested non-Christian. Any of these may give you valuable feedback on your understanding, application, and presentation of the text. I recall meeting with a mentor on some occasions when I was preaching through a book of the Bible. The insights from our discussions were valuable and enriched my confidence and quality of presentation when I stood to declare the Word of God.
Have you tried collaborating or getting feedback on the front end of sermon preparation? Do you have any suggestions or helpful insights on this practice?