Things often don’t go as planned. I wanted to have a blog to encourage people. To comfort and challenge them spiritually during this uncertain time. The plan was simple, write new posts, and use excerpts from old material. By doing it this way, I could push out a lot of content that had been researched without driving myself into the ground. Instead, I noticed something else. In past lesson manuscripts, I found names of students, specific illustrations or examples of what happened that week or locations that were familiar to students. It was so highly contextualized that it needed to be stripped down to the bare essentials, then – if there is time – add new, more generic, examples. I can’t stand generic examples!
Writing Lessons and Sermons With People in Mind
I write lesson manuscripts with specific people in mind. I write sermons with specific people in mind. They are the people that God has called me to love and pour my life out for. Because of that, it is pretty difficult to simply reuse old material without spending time reflecting on who I had in mind or why this tone was necessary for this particular part. Don’t misunderstand and think that I don’t first do the exegetical homework and seek to understand the passage well. But, I also aim to understand the students or people that I am speaking to. I want to know their joys and hurts. I want to know what they get excited about and what terrifies them. This helps to bring God’s Word to them. It helps anticipate ways that it might be misunderstood. It helps guide the tone and emphasis – if not explicit in the text itself. Everything is written and done for those that God has called me to shepherd.
Today, amid the Corona Virus, church streams are popping up all over the place. On the one hand, this is to be celebrated. We should long to see God’s Word go forth even in these times. Yet, there is also the disconnect. Pastors unable to see their people as they speak; online “visitors” are unknown and unable to be loved and connected with through the screen. This is hard. The beauty of context is being stripped away by the stream and lack of presence. Let us pray and long for when local churches can be together again. Nothing replaces it.
Local Church Streaming
Even with the disconnect, your local church desires your good. Your pastor(s) are praying for you; they are writing sermons, putting things together, for your good. It is easy to decontextualize and lose the beauty of that normally. Even more so in a day when everyone seems to have turned into a TV preacher overnight. It might be a temptation to see your pastor as just another face on a screen. One option among many. Don’t fall for that trap. Be edified by the great content out there, but don’t neglect sitting at the meal prepared for you this week. Pray for your pastor today; we need it. Also, know your pastor(s) are praying regularly for you.