Beliefnet
The Deacon's Bench

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.

Related:

Preparation H: (for homily)

How can you be a better preacher?

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