For Those Who Spread Ideas
I’ve been coaching a few folks (in whom I see enormous potential) to write sermons. To be helpful, I compiled a short list of some things that have been helpful to me so that they can keep them handy. None of the materials are profound or exhaustive, but if you are a communicator of ideas, they may be useful to you.
three questions that I try to answer in every sermon
1. What do people need to know? (awareness of the topic)
2. Why do they need to know it? (knowledge of the topic)
3. What do I want them to do about it? (application of the topic)
Stories for preaching
It can be difficult to find stories for sermons, especially if there aren’t any from your own life. This website breaks stories down by topic and is a good tool for finding examples that illustrate your topic.
If you need data and stats, this a good site to use for finding them on just about anything. Stats and data are important when trying to make a point. Without them, topics will often be labeled as “opinion” in the minds of your listeners.
When speaking to a religiously diverse audience, quotes and passages from other sacred texts that mirror the Bible passage(s) you are speaking on can be helpful for people to see the topic from another vantage point. It also shows that you value other streams of thought and practice enough to be familiar with them.
Quotes from those who are much more “giant” than we will ever be help take your topic out of a “vacuum” and highlight its widespread importance. Brainy Quote is a good archive of quotes on just about everything, broken down by topic.
Above all, the most useful tool that I have come across is watching and listening for things throughout my week that mirror the topic I am speaking on. For instance, in a conversation, instead of zoning out (which I am prone to do) I exercise what the therapist, Carl Rogers called “active listening.” People are remarkable beings, and we can learn a lot from them if we listen intently.
Active “watching” is also helpful. For example, I may be sitting on a park bench, killing time by playing around on my phone. Instead, I take the effort to put my phone away and watch my surroundings; people interacting, nature, etc. This can also lead to some discoveries for my topic that I would otherwise overlook.