Friday, May 23, 2008


No, I am not talking about some knock off farming club for kids, or the pro wrestler HHH, or the gas guzzling SUV. The three H's refer to how I approach my preaching. Around 3 this morning as I stared into the darkness I thought it might be something to share on the blog. Though it is a bit formulaic, I think it would help you to know how sermons germinate.

#1 - Heart
Preparation - I ask God to break my heart over a reality that shouldn't be. I may also ask him to fill my heart with a dream that should be. In this way, I am asking God to grip me with a message that must be preached.
Delivery - The first step in a good message (IMHO) is that it touches the heart. I truly believe that the emotions are the gateway to real change and though they can often be manipulated, that is no excuse for abandoning them.
Example - This week my world has been rocked by several deaths. One of members had his son die of an aneurysm, I wept. A classmate from college died unexpectedly of a sinus infection of all things leaving a wife and toddler, another person told me Wednesday night that her ex-husband and his entire family were killed in a car accident, and then news broke yesterday of Steve Curtis Chapman losing his daughter Maria. This has caused a great deal of emotion to well up inside of me. As anyone would, I have been wondering what God's greater purpose might be.
This emotion has opened the door for me to move to the second H.

#2 - Head
Preparation - As I prepare this second part of my message, I am asking God for His Word on my reality. We cannot stay in emotion, we must move to the intellect. I want God to show me what that simple truth is, so that I may understand and know Him more. The only reliable source of God's truth is His Word. That is why all of our preaching must be from the Bible.
Delivery - It is my goal to have the entire sermon summarized in one simple phrase. If someone asks what was church about. I want them to be able to quote it. Getting God's truth into people's heads is my life ambition.
Example - I spoke to a group of students this week and afterward a girl came up to me and said "Eight times" I asked her what she meant and she told me that I had said "choose today who you will serve" 8 times. Now my goal was not for her to count, but for her to get it. I think she did.

#3 - Hand
Preparation - Practicality is the difference between preaching and teaching. Too many churches gather every week to listen to teachers. don't get me wrong, teaching has its place in church, but bang for buck preaching is where it is at.
Delivery - The climax of every sermon for me is the point when we turn the corner and begin to see what we must now do with the emotional energy and intellectual truth from God's Word. We want a message that we can take home and use.
Example - Growing up in church world we had "quiz teams" churches used to compete their kids against each other and took pride in how much details their kids knew of the Bible. I remember studying things about the Bible that were far from practical and again (in my humble opinion) would fall into the endless genealogy category. I am all for Bible study, but let's study something we can use.

Now, why am I showing you my play book? Because we are on the same team. As we gather for worship this weekend, I want you to know that God has burdened me with a message that you need to hear. He has given me an insight into why bad things happen to good people from John 9, and I want so much for you to get this truth into your head. Because I know that armed with this simple story of the man born blind, and the reason for it, that you will be better equipped to deal with your own tragedies and to bring glory to God in the midst of your pain.

I know it is Memorial Day weekend, but you have got to come to church! I have something that I need to tell you. Something that will change the way you deal with tragedies.


Barbara Shellhamer said...

Dear Joel, Your walk with God shows. I am so impressed...with you but more with the God you Love and serve. wow.

Barbara Shellhamer said...

Dear Joel, Your walk with God is showing. I am so impressed by you...more impressed by the God you Love and serve.