In most churches, the preaching pastor spends a significant amount of time studying alone and crafting the sermon each week in preparation for Sunday. It’s hard work and a great labor of love. At Redemption Hill Church we have taken a slightly different approach.
We study together every week. Before RHC I had never experienced this approach. Now, I would never choose to do it any other way.
4 Benefits of a Collaborative Approach to Sermon Preparation
1. SHARPENED THINKING
One could make the argument that collaborative study is less efficient and almost certainly be right. It may take more time, but it also sharpens thinking. We are all better off studying God’s Word in the context of community. That’s the beauty of the church. The others in the room ask questions the preacher would never think of, see things in the text he might miss, and force him to be clearer as he defends the overall direction he see things heading.
If the team doesn’t get it, the preacher can be sure that the church won’t be able to follow him come Sunday. The Christian walk was never designed to be experienced in a vacuum. It’s hard to see how pastoral ministry and study should be removed from community when we would never dream of encouraging others to do the same. The diversity in perspectives and burdens expose a beauty and richness from God’s Word that we won’t find alone.
2. PASTORAL CARE
Each week the preacher has the fantastic opportunity to pastor their ministry team by walking through God’s Word with them. Most of our preaching is walking straight through books of the Bible, so we get to do that and study together. As we open God’s Word together and pray for each other, a cohesiveness, unity, and love naturally develops among us. Our weekly study time ensures that we get beyond the hectic calendar and operations issues that always seem urgent and inescapable.
3. TRAINING OPPORTUNITY
It is is a massive responsibility to rightly handle God’s Word in preaching. Studying together allows the pastor to train those present in how to approach the text. We work hard each week to discern the meaning of a text: not just as it stands, but in the context of all of Scripture that builds from verse to the immediate paragraph, or thought block, to the larger context and themes of the book in which it’s found, to the covenantal context, and finally to the larger scope of all of redemptive history. All of this shapes the singular “big idea” that we preach on Sunday.
It is a discipline and an art to break down a text well. It is always a challenge to move from a basic outline to clear Gospel ties. On top of this, we want to develop things in such a way that are compelling, winsome, and convicting. This is where these 4 questions can be very helpful, not just in review but also in preparation. The chance to walk through this preparation with others on the team, interns, and residents is immeasurably valuable.
4. CHURCH UNITY
From our study time together on Tuesday mornings, everyone moves ahead to work on their specific area of ministry focus. Material is created for our Community Groups that is in alignment with what will be preached on Sunday. The service and liturgy for Sunday is built to reflect the tone of the text and flows out of response to the Word that will be preached because most of our worship is backloaded after the sermon. The preacher takes the skeleton developed in our study time and fleshes it out to a full sermon by the time Sunday rolls around.
Studying together ensures that we are on the same page as we carry out our responsibilities throughout the week.
We truly are co-laborers. The cohesiveness across ministries breeds unity in the church.
How do you handle sermon prep?