Learning to lay-preach (+ Luke 2:8-20)
Not only did I make my debut as Falke this weekend, I lay-preached for only the second time. The previous time was several years ago in Sydney where I had pretty much no idea what I was doing. This time round, when asked a few weeks back to fill in for the pastor who would be away, I realised that I had no idea what I was doing, and got stuck into Greg Scharf’s excellent book for laypreachers: Prepared to Preach, which had been recommended to me by Mark Meynell. I found it an extremely helpful guide for the kind of process one goes through in tackling a sermon. He gives the following fourteen steps, all of which are prefaced with the word ‘Prayerfully’:
- Select a text of Scripture, also called a preaching portion.
- Read the text carefully and repeatedly.
- Study the text, that is, engage in exegesis.
- Meditate on the text.
- Summarize the thrust of the text in a single sentence.
- Discern how this text speaks to your listeners. Write out a provisional proposition, that is, the thrust of the passage as it relates to your listeners.
- Structure your message in a way that reflects how the text is designed to achieve its God-given purposes. Describe how your message will develop the proposition by means of an organizational sentence.
- Write an outline that fulfils the promises implied by the proposition and organizational sentence.
- Develop each thought in the outline by anchoring it to part of the text, validating the connection, explaining it, illustrating it, and applying it.
- Write the conclusion to the message, including as appropriate a final prayer.
- Write the introduction to the message.
- Write out the message in detail in good oral style.
- Reduce the manuscript to notes.
- Rehearse the sermon aloud until you are relatively free from your notes and can forget about yourself when preaching.
I didn’t manage to achieve points 13 & 14, but for a first attempt I think it went pretty well. Of course, I’m always up for helpful feedback, so here it is:
The text is Luke 2:8-20:
The Shepherds and the Angels
 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
(Luke 2:8-20 ESV)