The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“A lot of preachers have had to wing it…”

If you wonder how a preacher goes about his (or her) job, take a look:

Pastors take great care to craft sermons they hope will inspire their congregations. Many spend hours each week thinking, researching and writing.

When the Rev. Charles E. Booth is putting together a sermon, he focuses on making the material relevant to the congregation, he said.

“If preaching does not address contemporary issues and human needs, it becomes irrelevant and therefore has no use,” Booth said.

In addition to being pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church, 428 E. Main St. Downtown, Booth teaches homiletics, or the art of preaching, at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley.


The ideal sermon presents and explains biblical text in such a way that it helps people deal with their problems, he said.

Booth usually spends seven or eight hours preparing a sermon that takes 30 to 60 minutes to deliver, he said.

His lengthy preparation is similar to that of the Rev. Joe Ciccone, director of the Ohio State University Newman Center.

Ciccone works on his homily – the word used in Catholicism – all week. He examines the Scriptures that will be read at Mass because, unlike many Protestant ministers, priests expound on preselected readings.

Ciccone researches the historical context of the readings and what scholars have said, then identifies an overriding theme to focus on.

He asks himself, “What does this mean for this community of faith, in the setting in which they live? What do we need to hear now?”


Not every homily is easy. Pastors get writer’s block, too.

“There are times you feel very dry,” Ciccone said. “I think every preacher goes through that, where you pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.”

And, sometimes, no matter how much a pastor wants to prepare, time runs out.

“I think a lot of preachers have had to wing it,” he said. “I’ve come pretty close.”

There’s more at the link.


Preparation H: (for homily)

How can you be a better preacher?

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posted September 26, 2010 at 11:19 am

“I think a lot of preachers have had to wing it”
And don’t think it doesn’t show.

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posted September 27, 2010 at 4:19 am

Fr. Joe Ciccone, is my former pastor here in Knoxville before being transferred to Ohio. I can vouch for the fact that the time he puts into preparing his homilies is well spent because the results are usually excellent.

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macon church

posted September 28, 2010 at 8:12 am

Some pastors do a great job winging it.

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Regina Faighes

posted September 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm

At our parish, whether our pastor, one of our parochial vicars, or either of our two deacons (one of whom is the author of this blog) is preaching, we are sure to hear an excellent homily. I always find myself thinking about the homily long after the Mass is over. I also sometimes discuss it with my friends–both Catholic and non-Catholic. For me, what makes these homilies so wonderful is they are both spiritually uplifting and intellectually stimulating–and they sometimes are humorous, too. They help me to prepare myself spiritually to receive the Eucharist and they encourage me to read and understand Scripture on a deeper and more meaningful level. I think one of the challenges that a preacher of any religion or denomination faces is that each member of his or her congregation has different spiritual needs. Some are suffering and need a homily that comforts them; others are happy and need a homily that reflects their need to rejoice and thank God for His manifold blessings; and still others need a homily that will satisfy their need to have a deeper understanding of Scripture. I only can speak for myself, but I find the amazing homilies that I am blessed to hear at our parish satisfy all of those spiritual needs.

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