My fellow contributor asked some great questions in regard to my previous post. Since what I wanted to say was longer than a comment I have provided it hear as a follow-up. Thanks Caleb for the great questions. In short, the issue is how can a young preacher maintain pulpit cred and grow in his skills and calling. I think we should be careful to avoid a one-size-addresses-all problems approach. As I think Caleb indicated in his comment there are a number of solutions to the pastor getting help with his preaching. Here are a few bullet thoughts:
1. Study preaching. Read a few books on preaching every year and take away a few things to work on from each resource. Read and listen to good preachers. Challenge yourself to preach different genres of Scripture. I am biased toward preaching narrative at the moment but OT and NT narrative will open up a world of study and color.
2. Find one or two reliable/trustworthy sources of feedback in your congregation. I know there are exceptions but most churches will have at least a couple of men who know good preaching and can provide loving feedback. This can also double as a discipleship opportunity so that they are trained to sharpen their hearing as well. I have many that I discuss my preaching with but I have two men that I know will tell me I was terrible and at the same time help me.
3. If #2 is not a possibility then form a work group with a couple of local pastors. Exchange sermon audio or video and provide feedback to each other. If there is no one in your area then look to fellow preachers in your seminary network or like-minded pastors in another state.
4. Continue your education. Go to conferences with break-out sessions on preaching (Shepherd’s Conference, Simeon Trust, etc.). If you are able and you have an M.Div pursue a D.Min in preaching (Master’s and Southern Seminary both have excellent D.Min in expository preaching). These programs will help to refine your skills and expose you to various nuances of preaching that are easily forgotten or missed.
5. Self-evaluation. Watch yourself on video tape. Watch three sermons in a row so that you are not only watching a “favorite.” Watch them multiple times and focus your critique on something different each time. For extra measure, have someone you trust watch them and provide feedback then take the person to lunch for sitting through your sermons and helping you.
6. Read the Bible a lot! Read and read and read your Bible, wear it out, and sit for lengthy periods of time reading chapter after chapter. I’m convinced that the deeper your well becomes the more compelling your preaching. This is why solid preachers who have been at it for twenty years or more who have also established good habits of Bible reading are likely to be excellent expositors. If you are too busy as a full-time pastor to read your Bible for even hours at a time then you are too busy and you are headed for trouble. Turn back now and establish good habits. Do whatever you have to do to deepen your knowledge of Scripture.
7. Turn off Facebook, your phone, Twitter, email, and every other electro-disturbance that hampers your preparation. Train yourself to focus without feeling the need to check some frivolous “update” that adds nothing to the process.
8. If you do have time to read blogs, etc. then explore Expository Thoughts. There are hundreds of essays and ideas here that are given to motivate, challenge, and inspire expositors. Also see Peter Mead’s Biblical Preaching blog which is an excellent blog on the nuts and bolts of preaching.
9. Worship Jesus. If you are daily spending time reading about, praying to, fellowshipping around, meditating on, and striving to be holy like Jesus then your preaching will reflect your walk with Him. It will not be necessary to embrace a form of preaching that works Jesus into your message but the fingerprint of the Messiah will be evident on everything you say.