Five things I learned writing daily Lent devotions

A week before Ash Wednesday (February 14 this year), I cast a line via my weekly email into the congregation announcing that I would be writing daily devotions on Mark’s version of the passion of our Lord during the forty-six days of Lent (I included the Sundays). About twenty replied and received a daily early-morning email devotion. This was a new project for me, and here’s what I learned from the experience. Continue reading


I’m not writing out my sermons.  At least, not lately.  I’ve gotten into “storyboarding,” just like they put together movies or commercials.  I’m not sure where I picked up this idea, but it forced me to be more visual in the way I put together my sermons.  I have to come up with an image or a description for each point rather than just an outline.

This is totally different than how I was taught to put a sermon together.  My sermon preparation professor, Dr. Gerhard Aho at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN, made us thoroughly outline everything.  And that is how I approached every sermon for years, as if he were watching over my shoulder.  It was a good foundation that made me think through my text, points, transitions, and illustrations.

Lately, though, I’ve used a storyboard approach.  I try to put a picture with each part of the sermon that supports that one point I’m trying to get across to people.

How’s it going?  Well, my personal reviews are mixed.

It consumes less time than outlining and writing out a whole sermon.  I used to spend hours writing and rewriting.  Then I realized no one was actually reading these sermons so a manuscript wasn’t really important.  I didn’t even read them; I always preach without notes.

It’s easier to memorize.  Rather than trying to remember all the paragraphs I’ve written, I’ve got 8 to 12 images to recall, which bring to mind that part of the sermon.

But it’s a little nerve wracking, knowing that everytime I preach, I am composing as I go.  Kind of like jazz improvisation.  I’ve worked hard to learn the chords, and then work from there.

No one knows I’ve changed my approach except me.  Until  now.  Now all of you do.