I’ve been thinking about a helpful quote I read or heard somewhere recently that said something to this effect,

“Preaching is different from teaching in that it is personal and requires a response.”

And as a pastor friend of ours has often said, “Information is not enough. What we need is transformation.”  I agree. Sermons should be not merely informational, but also transformational.

I came up with my own thought recently on the subject of preaching and writing sermons. It goes like this,

“A sermon is more like a poem than a paper.”

In other words, a sermon cannot say everything about the subject at hand, therefore it must be shorter than a paper and thus more like a poem. Also, a sermon should leave its hearers with an impression, a picture in their minds that is lasting. Therefore, its language cannot be mundane, but instead should be a memorable portrait of its subject. An example of the first line of a poem that leaves such a portrait in my own mind is Robert Frost’s “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” It suggests in pictorial language that one must make choices in life, and that choices matter. To my mind, a great model for sermon writing. I’m reminded in the same vein of the words of another pastor friend who often said, “We don’t think in words, but rather in pictures.”

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