An Experiment In Written Homiletics

I find preaching fascinating.

It’s an event.

Artistic exposition of scientific exegesis.

It should capture our hearts as it captivates our imagination because it’s about an experience of beauty as we see Jesus crucified afresh before our eyes (Galatians 3:1). It’s more than a mere intellectual exercise of explanation and application because information alone doesn’t transform, we need to feel something.

written sermonPreaching speaks to our emotions.

It gives voice to our doubts.

It presents us with a better vision of reality, a better way of living, a better God to love and serve.

Writing is non-verbal. You make a point once, defend it, and move on. Preaching is verbal. It’s a speaking event. Repetition is paramount. Preachers necessarily have to make their point more than once because if the listener misses it, for whatever reason, they can’t just flick back a few pages for a quick refresh. The moment is passed, the opportunity missed, and the preacher’s words have disappeared into an ethereal realm beyond the reach of mere mortals. Unless there’s a podcast.

For this reason preaching doesn’t necessarily read well and writing doesn’t necessarily preach well because they are two very different forms of communication. Nevertheless, sermon transcripts have enjoyed immense popularity. Consider for example the sermon transcripts of Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, John MacArthur, and many others. All of which are freely available online.

As a writer I’d like to experiment and see if the reverse is possible: can I write a sermon, to be read, that would preach well. For the record, I am not much of a preacher. I’ve preached maybe five times, they weren’t worth writing home about, so this could be a colossal failure. I will try and prepare these sermon transcripts as if I were actually going to preach them so I will attempt to stay true to the form of preaching. I’d love to receive any feedback you wish to share so please use the comment section liberally.

The book I’ll be preaching through will be 1 Timothy. It should be long enough to get a sense of whether the experiment is a success or a failure; either way I hope it will serve to “correct, rebuke and encourage” (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV) all of us and be kind of fun.

See you next week!


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