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  • Nick McDonald

From Essay to Art.



Sermon crafting is a verbal art. Unfortunately I learned to preach with books, a strange thing we’ve picked up I suppose from the enlightenment. It also informs - subconsciously - my sermon process. Once I’ve researched, constructed, illustrated, I feel done with the sermon. But this is all in my head and my hands.


So lately I’ve realized - partially from cringey viewing sessions of myself on video - that I need to verbally prepare my sermon as well. I tend to avoid this, because it feels “inauthentic.”

But authenticity takes work, especially for an introvert. Nathaniel Hawthorne once quipped, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” The same is true - and why shouldn’t it be? - of listening.


So there’s a new process here, for me:

1. Researching - Do the language, commentaries, etc.

2. Constructing - Shape it into something coherent.

3. Embodying - Give the sermon verbally, 2-3 times.

4. Visualizing - Find a visual. Get creative. Make it memorable. Picture it all happening from the listener's perspective.


The first two I always do, the second two are equally important.

It’s what transforms my sermon from a verbal essay into a work of art.

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