Lutheran Worship and Resources

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How To Write an Original Sermon

I published three sermons by Martin Luther for the Day of Pentecost. Here is the link separately, since Mequon grads have trouble with embedded links.

I try to feature Luther's sermons during the week. This time I started earlier than usual.

Here are the steps in writing and giving an original sermon:

1. Read Luther's sermon on the text for the day. Highlight important passages.
2. Write an original sermon, using each verse as the framework for an expository sermon about the entire lesson.
3. Give the sermon by using a Bible or lectionary as the only source for notes. Each verse is the reminder about the next section of the sermon. The preached sermon will vary somewhat from the written version. Reciting a memorized sermon is not as good as preaching from the text with a good knowledge of what needs to be emphasized.
4. Post the sermon on the website or blog for everyone to read. Our Bethany Lutheran Worship blog is used only for sermons and quotes. The blog is read all over the world, especially in the missions fields of Asia, Africa, and South America.

Explanation of the steps:
1. Luther teaches more about the Word of God than any other author. There are many other good sources, such as Chemnitz, Melanchthon, the Confessions, and Lenski. Luther should be first on the list for studying the text.
2. Every sermon should be written out as completely as possible. Writing is the most organized way of thinking. Simply speaking on the text leads to a lot of repetition, meaningless verbosity. Compare a conversation to a formal essay - that is how great the difference is.
3. Speaking without notes is the best way to maintain eye contact, which is just as important in addressing the glass eye of the web camera. We instinctively stop listening when someone is reading a speech to us. With a local audience, the preacher can maintain communication much better with eye contact.
4. Posting the sermon, even the title and text, has been a great source of embarrassment in WELS, especially in Fox Valley, where plagiarism is encouraged and defended by DP Doug Engelbrecht. If a plagiarized sermon is posted (as John Parlow, Tim Glende, and Ski did), everyone can identify the cheat and where he got his material from. If the sermon is original, many people will pass it on by email, by printing it up, by forwarding, tweeting, and Google Plussing it.

This is Luther paraphrasing St. Paul.
We can learn a lot about preaching by reading Luther,
whose sermons are Gospel proclamations,
Biblical expositions, and doctrinal masterpieces.

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