I got some great responses on my post wondering how pastors write and/or deliver sermons. Bill LaMorey from Calvary Fellowship West Hartford provided links to his personal site on how he does it, and linked to a Mark Driscoll interview where he reveals his method.
How pastors do this interested me because it involves writing alongside rhetoric. Me, being a libertarian, an introvert, and possessing horrible oral communication skills, this was uncharted territory. Pastors need to “reign” people in, exhibit outgoing social skills, and have a good grasp on rhetorical artistry, within their sermons—all three of which respectively butt up against my makeup. I’m foreign to the task.
I was hoping a certain ex-pastor and fabulous writer-colleague of mine would chime in, and he did via email:
There is a level of improvisation to many, if not all, pastors’ sermons. In many ways there’s an elements of spoken word to it.
There are notes, full phrasings and ideas flushed out, but on the stage (pulpit) the ideas progress and more often than not the pastor explores the ideas in front of people. I picked this up not only from being a pastor myself but from watching so many larger than life pastors do what they do from behind the scenes.
The sermons themselves are born from the contact of people, for the week leading up to the sermon the topic itself becomes a focus point for the preacher, being thought about and talked about up until sunday. This is why there is a level of improv, as the topic has been a large issue all week there is a comfort to let lose with it.
Personally I found the “i have to write down what he just said” moments came from the small improv moments.
I asked him if being a pastor helped his writing at all. His response:
It definitely helped me with writing. Sermons and any written material of a pastor has to not only flow a certain level but a level of heart has to always be present, which I took to writing. The heart strings being pulled bring people in, whether it’s prose or a sermon.
Some good thoughts here. Anyone have something else to add?