February 02, 2017

Unprepared

The pastor, using a form of expository preaching, read a chapter in Second Peter for his sermon text. He gave some historical background, took a few rabbit tails, and used one illustration. After the sermon he revealed he never prepares a sermon per se. Rather, he lets the Spirit move him each Sunday, “Oh, I study all the time, but I let the Spirit guide the sermon. I never know what I’ll be preaching.” I understand relying on the Spirit and Jesus did say, “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt 10:19-20 NIV). However, I keep having this image of the Spirit always being blamed for a preacher’s lack of preparation.

3 comments:

Steve Corey said...

Gail;

-----I understand this preacher’s point. When I was young, I rejected the idea of becoming a preacher. It wasn’t for me. I liked being face to face and one on one with people. So, through tax season every year many conferences with clients have become more like little worship services, or Sunday schools, or even history classes, and never by plan, calculation, or preparation. It just happens. Nor do I avoid it. The Spirit really does help draw out of your pool of personal knowledge what is needed at certain times with certain people.
-----I’ve also tried giving presentations. But I never fail to make a mess of it. I’ve blamed it on lack of preparation. But some of those I’ve messed up the worst I had prepared for the best. In an interpersonal communications class at Mesa College, it was my turn to present an informative speech. I had recently written a paper on the processes involved in the life of a star which would eventually lead to its demise as a supernova, and why some stars collapse all the way into the state of a black hole while the collapse of others is halted at the state of being a neutron star, a pulsar, or some other form of super massive compact objects (of which one state can be a giant diamond. See! God likes bling too.) I began my presentation with very well prepared notes on index cards appropriately ordered from beginning to end. But I stumbled all over my own ideas as I tried to make sense of what seemed to be the absolutely foreign chicken-scratch on those cards, even though I carefully and neatly laid out each card. My mind could relate to my pool of knowledge, but the thoughts strung out on those cards were of my mind in a different circumstance at a different time. And I just could not relate to them. Shortly after beginning my presentation, I gave up. I folded the cards back into my pocket and just dove into my pool. Almost ten minutes overtime (which was the only markdown my presentation got besides the rough beginning) I finished. The teacher faulted me before the class for going so far overtime, although she profoundly complemented the presentation itself. The rest of the class disagreed with her. They loved the presentation and wanted more. So I got to answer a couple questions, too.
-----I am beginning to think I might have to do some public presenting soon. And it frightens me. I listen to the cold droning of some who prepare their speech in written form, then read it to the audience. And I marvel at the well controlled, well disciplined preachers and speakers whom we all can see are using notes. But the preacher who can get in front of a group of people and very effectively speak entirely without notes, stumblings, or wanderings makes me feel like he’s talking to me personally of something he truly believes enough to often contemplate.
-----So although I must agree with you about never speaking without preparation, I think even more about never presenting what I don’t know well enough to say in good mental order without notes. And what might become of me should I soon have to get in front of people, well, we shall see.

Love you all,
Steve Corey

Gail Marvel said...

Ah - ha…but you were prepared. So prepared that you could throw away the notes! The key to ending on time is simple. You just stop. Don’t wind it up, make it tidy, or restate the major point. Just stop talking when it’s time to stop and say thank you. Your audience will thank you and they also understand that there is more to any issue than you can communicate in 20 or 30 minutes. If you talk longer than the allotted time the audience feels you place more importance on your presentation, your knowledge and your ego than you are placing on them as listeners. Good luck with your presentation.
Gail

Steve Corey said...

Gail;

Thank you for the great advice. And I never thought of it like you say, the pool of knowledge comes from preparation. I will ponder it sincerely. In fact, I think I will give your advice a try. For sure I don’t have any presentations planned. Nor if it were left to me would I ever plan any. But when you love the Lord and lay yourself out to serving Him in serving whom He loves, then you never know what He mig