Breaking up with “And,” “But,” and “So”
A few weeks ago, I wrote out a sermon for the first time. I usually just put powerpoint slide together for my own use in remembering each part of my sermon rather than writing out a manuscript. But for the “Love” sermon in the series paths of grace, I changed it up and wrote it out. I like the writing process, but it did make it harder to remember, so I probably won’t do it that often.
Once it was written, though, I thought, “Well, why not just post it on WordPress. That way I won’t have to write anything else for that day.” Done.
The next week, the thought came to me, “Maybe people would like to see all my sermons.” (Ha! I’m such an optimist.) I already record them and publish the podcast and get a few listeners each week. But maybe someone would like to read it. So I listened to my audio, transcribed the sermon and published it. It took me about half an hour.
The process was worth the effort. As I listened, I realized how often I start a sentence with the words “And,” “But,” and “So.” I don’t write that way, but I was speaking that way. Not a deal breaker, but sloppy. I can do better. I’m trying to be more conscious of the way I begin my sentences. I’m breaking up with “And,” “But,” and “So!”
I’ve been preaching weekly for over thirty-one years. You would think I’d be able to coast by now. I actually work harder now on my sermons that ever. I take more time to produce content, tie in application and speak clearly.
A colleague of mine shared with me that he knew a pastor who served a congregation for thirty or thirty-five years. The pastor wrote fifty-two sermons at the beginning of his career, and used those fifty-two sermons every year for the rest of his career. I’m not sure how he got away with that. I don’t like to recycle my past sermons. I don’t find them palatable so I don’t imagine my hearers would either. I need to produce something fresh for me as well as my audience. Only when the sermon resonates with me do I really have something to say.
I enjoy the process of creating and presenting content. It’s good for me, and hopefully it’s a blessing for others, too.