Saturday, April 5, 2008

Brain Flush

Confident in my total absence of hipness and techno-savvy, I boldly launch this first post on my first blog.

There are no lofty goals associated with this blog. It is nothing more than a lark, a brain flush, a pause to refresh. Maybe something profitable will come along in posts, comments or discussion as a result.

The same goes for this first post. This post is a brain flush, a pause to refresh during final prep for tomorrow's sermon from James 3:1-12, "Tests of Faith. Say ahhh..."

Next week's sermon will be on last verses of chapter 3 "Wisdom from Above".

A brain flush is in order because, frankly, I'm probably in a bit deep. Not on the teaching or preaching of the passage so much. This isn't a controversial passage. The challenge is in the the change I've been making in my methods of preparation and presentation.

In my professional life I prepare for public speaking by storyboarding and outlining visually in Powerpoint. Then I go back through and flesh out the presentation and speaking notes.

My method of preparing a sermon is different. It is more like the traditional approach to writing a paper. Thesis, outline, conclusion. Then fill it in. The difference is that, unlike some preachers, I don't actually write out the whole sermon in advance. I've found that note cards with outline, key points, verses and quotations has worked best for me.

I'm a bit of a story teller and an ad libber -- it's a natural tendency that works with my spiritual gift. The challenge for me is to not "under prepare" and thus rely too much on my ability to improvise and speak extemporaneously. On the other hand I have learned that if I over prepare and put to much in my notes, my delivery gets stiff and I don't engage the audience.

That brings me back to my point about a change in prep methods. I've recogized the need to prepare more visuals for my sermons. This generation requires it. Also our congregation has many recent immigrants and refugees who struggle with English. Not to mention the language challenge our Canadian ex-pats face!

So here I sit. Needing a brainflush; in the final throws of preparing a sermon using my workaday Powerpoint methodology. The visual content came easily for this passage -- almost too easily. The visual challenge was in the choosing -- not the finding. The bigger challenge is in integrating the teaching and preaching with the visuals.

The problem right now is that I may be getting too "prepared" and fenced in by content on the slides. The nice things about note cards is you can drop them on the floor or rearrange them on the fly. These slides may make my delivery stiff. The sermon may lose benefit of my ability to ad lib or ability to properly time delivery of a key point or turn of phrase.

Well back to the grindstone for now. Maybe my first blog post will be my last. Time will tell if I can remember this blog exists let alone the login info.

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