The writing of the sermon is done. As you saw, I ended up jettisoning about 50% of the work I did on it. Then why do all that work?
Two reasons. First, you need the confidence to get up and speak on a subject you absolutely know. I ended up going in a completely different direction than what I envisioned, and I think the sermon itself forced it.
The second reason is, that work is not wasted. You studied a lot, learned a lot. And the written text of a sermon is not final – I sometimes am skipping parts as I watch the congregation and their reactions – and that’s when my research will lead me to possibly offer up the definition of a hypocrite. I also ditched a sermon illustration, and held one more mentally in check. What you WRITE is not always what you SAY.
Now, for the delivery. The pulpit is not a cage, unless you only have the one microphone. I like to walk around a little. Little gestures here and there. If you’re looking at the congregation, they pay more attention. Try not to be distracted by a Deacon fast asleep in one row. It’s not always your preaching! Most Americans tend to go around in a complete state of exhaustion brought on by habitual dehydration, lack of fitness and muscle tone, and too much stimulation from television. THe odds of someone falling asleep during the service… well, it happens. That’s why you should consider a sermon on throwing out your television back in Matthew 5.
Remember, action. move around. Make eye contact. Vary your voice pitch. Go UP, go DOWN. And put some intensity in your voice. There’s room in here for intensity. It’s not a college lecture. Notice I really didn’t get into the whole “how to wash your hands in first century Israel”. I never mentioned an eggshell, I never mentioned large stone pitchers where water is kept. If your congregation perks up at this point in the sermon, by all means, deliver that. If they’re focusing on the sermon points, then skip it. You have to KNOW this material. That’s why we did about 8 hours of work on it. And don’t forget, you hae two more sermons to write this week.
The sermon ends when the congregation wakes up Monday morning. Everyone makes decisions they’re going to be more for the Lord on Sunday morning, as lunch is approaching. But as Lunch passes, so do the resolutions. If you preach it right… some of them begin to walk it Monday morning. That’s where the sermon REALLY is. It’s not you.
It’s your congregation. They ARE your sermon.
Give it your all.