1. You might find Ministry and Spiritual Formation resources from the Wheaton College website very useful. There are some very good resources here. Also, you might enjoy these podcasts from The Center for Excellence in Preaching, Calvin Theological Seminary.
2. I read this article in the print edition of the The Wall Street Journal last Saturday. This article, “Practice Makes for a Perfect Presentation” is very good. The author, Jerry Weissman, writes about the importance of verbalizing a presentation aloud before actually giving it. This one practice would really help many of us who preach. In particular, it is important to verbally articulate a story, whether retelling a biblical story or one that you might be using in your sermon. Weismann says that many people try to do this by going through their PowerPoint slides and thinking about the point they will make at each slide. Still others think that mumbling through the sermon is adequate. Yet, there is nothing like actually verbalizing your message before preaching it.
3. Several years ago, I took a class with Dr. Neal Plantiga, president of Calvin Theological Seminary, and Dr. Hulitt Gloer, professor of preaching at Truett Theological Seminary (Baylor University). The class was entitled “Reading for Preaching.” We spent a week looking at novels and other books that in some way might contribute to one’s preaching. You might read this article by Dr. Plantiga entitled “Reading for Preaching.”
4. One of the criticisms that has sometimes been made regarding Christian ministers is that they do not live in the “real world.” Perhaps there are ministers who isolate themselves from their surroundings and from people in general. Yes, I realize that it is very possible for a minister to live an insulated life and that really is very unfortunate.
However, most of the ministers I know have tasted much of life as they have walked with men and women through marriages, sickness, physical suffering, unemployment, prison, child birth, and death. Some of my memories include:
- Looking through bars or hard plastic at a man or woman in jail. At times, this has been a person from my congregation.
- Standing in a dusty cemetery in west Texas, about to preach the funeral of baby.
- Sitting in an emergency room all night in Birmingham, Alabama, with the family of a car wreck victim.
- Talking with a young couple who love God and are about to be married.
- Being with a couple who are experiencing the impact of sin and destructive choices.
Again and again, I am reminded of how broken this world is and our desperate need for God.