I assume readers understand what we mean by sermon preparation…
Choosing a passage under God’s direction.
Studying the text using Inductive Bible study.
Planning to present the message of that text.
That’s sermon preparation. We add the term digital because we use digital tools instead of analog paper books and Bibles. This series covers the process of digital sermon prep using Logos Bible Software. We’ll then take a stab at it with Accordance and Olive Tree and maybe some others. If you don’t use Logos, what do you use? Comment below.
How do we prepare creatively? And then how do we present the message creatively? Here’s what I mean by Creative Digital Sermon Preparation and Preaching.
Young Kevin sat in the auditorium listening to Pastor Bob Stiles preach. He couldn’t wait to get out of there and eat lunch. Maybe mom would let them go to the Italian place with the great spaghetti and garlic sticks with butter sauce.
“Everyone take out the Hershey’s Kiss our ushers passed out before the service began,” Pastor Stiles directed. Kevin already ate his. Mom looked at him, wondering where Kevin put his. Kevin looked up at her and smiled as innocently as he could.
“Why did that old man want me to eat a Hershey’s Kiss? They’re pretty good.”
He enjoyed his 25 minutes earlier. Now he wished he had another.
“They say ‘Big Things Come in Small Packages.’ Remember that the next time you eat a Hershey’s Kiss or any other small piece of chocolate candy,” the pastor said, unwrapping a Kiss. “The tongue is tiny but can deliver a ton of pain when we say unkind words meant to stab at the heart of a loved one.”
Just then, a video played on the screen showing a man building a fire while a narrator read the passage from James 3:1-12.
So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest.
(James 3:5, CSB)
For the first time, little Kevin paid attention to the sermon, at least during the sermon.
A few days later, Kevin and his Uncle Mike stood in line at the CVS, waiting to pay for some medicine Uncle Mike needed for his bad back. Kevin looked at him, wondering, “Will he say, ‘Yes?'” He did, and Kevin grabbed a small bag of 6 Hershey’s Kisses from the rack below the checkout counter.
He wanted Hershey’s Kisses after the pastor mentioned them in church Sunday. After Uncle Mike paid, Kevin tore into the bag, unwrapped his first Kiss, and gobbled it up like a starving vagrant.
“Get your fat little brat out of the way,” a heavyset older woman yelled at Kevin’s Uncle. Did she mean him? He never really considered himself fat, but he was plump. The pain of her words pierced his heart.
Creative Digital Sermon Preparation in Biblical Hermeneutics
As we preach, the creative elements of the sermon make them memorable. In the fictitious example above, a sermon on James 3 grabbed little Kevin’s mind. Days later, when he experienced what the pastor exemplified by his candy analogy, it meant more to Kevin. He learned thanks to Pastor Stiles’s small object lesson on the potency of the tongue. Candy grabs a boy’s attention more than eloquent speech.
A motion video of words from a Bible verse with sound instead of accenting the words grab attention more powerfully than reading the text from a paper Bible. A multi-sensory experience where the audience hears the message, sees the message, feels the massage, and even tastes the message, will tattoo itself to the heart more indelibly than a traditional spoken word.
Creativity in sermon preparation and delivery empowers the message as nothing else can. That’s why we want to creatively study the word, looking for the multi-sensory aspects of the text, and take note of those examples so we can creatively reproduce them for our audiences.
Examples of Creative Digital Sermon Preparation for Communicating the the Bible
The Bible is rife with creativity and objects lessons. The Eden tree served as an object lesson of boundaries, commitment, and the temptation of Adam and Even. The flood taught Noah a lesson through an experience of all the senses as no sermon could. God used a dove to illustrate a message of waiting on God to act. The rich sensory experience of sacrifice stamped the idea of atonement on the Israelites’ hearts as they smelled, heard, felt, saw, and in some cases tasted that atoning sacrifice.
The Lord’s Supper and Baptism are two of the most important worship rituals of the church. We experience them a rich multi-sensory experience that we will unlikely never forget. Who can’t remember their own baptism as the water poured over the face and then dripped off a robe or t-shirt and shorts? We taste a tiny cup of juice or wine, depending on our traditions.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were commanded by Christ for many reasons. I believe that he commanded us to do them in part as a means of indelibly stamping the truth on our hearts reinforced by the sense of taste, touch, smell, site, and hearing.
Find the Sensory Signals in Scripture and Communicate Using Senses
Expository preachers argue that we communicate the Scriptures’ messages by letting the message of God’s word direct our words as we preach. We don’t bring our opinions into the Big Idea of the text. We let the words in the passage direct our main points and message.
I usually preach expository sermons. So, I support the idea of letting the text speak. However, I think we miss another way that the text should direct our message. Let the tone, sensory imagery, creativity, and word-picture of the text direct our presentation methods. A convicting message from a text will contain a more prophetic tone as we preach. A lighthearted story filled with humor should also contain humor. When a Psalm uses strong sensory images, the sermons should grab hold of those same or similar sensory images.
Spotting the art in Scripture becomes part of our preparation while we study a passage. Learn the Big Idea of a text and learn how the Bible communicates the Big Ideas by tickling our five senses.
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.