Preaching can be isolating. Week after week, preachers talk to the same group of people, and most of us don't have (or make?) enough time to read or engage outside our regular circles to gain new perspective. We hit the walls of our own busyness, over-exposure to religiosity, lack of imagination, and the questions that rattle around in our own hearts but aren't sure we should name to our congregations. It can be hard to feel the fresh wind from the Spirit.
Just as each writer must find her or his own voice, I believe each preacher must find her or his own way into the call of preaching. However, we don't do it alone. The most healthy preachers know they are always in conversation with their congregation, their local community, the world, the books in their library, those closest to them, their own lives. They know that throughout these conversations, scripture winds its wisdom, prophecy, incongruities, humor, and stories.
Another significant conversation is the one we have with other preachers. When we talk to other preachers, we realize we are not alone in our Saturday morning frustrations or Sunday afternoon disappointments. Twitter and Facebook are one of the greatest gifts to preachers these days. I regularly hear my friends expressing their own frustrations and joys with preaching and I remember I am not alone. We learn from each other's processes and move away from competition to community. We share the paradox of being a very human being who is called to preach the Word with an authority that, whether we want it or not, we are given once we step in front of a group of people to preach.
In this spirit of conversation, I am asking five questions of great preachers. I will publish these interviews as part of my column over the next several months. As a relatively new preacher, these are questions that I wonder about when I am listening to a masterful sermon. These questions try to get a bigger picture of how the preacher thinks and works.
- What has been your journey into preaching?
- What is the biggest struggle for new preachers?
- How do you preach for transformation and/or movement toward justice?
- What is your process of preparation?
- What is the future of preaching?
The preachers I am interviewing hold widely different perspectives. The answers I hear remind me how deeply personal and individualized the preaching process is for each preacher and have deepened my respect for each of these people. I hope these interviews answer some of your own questions, spark your imagination, challenge your preaching, and make you fall in love once again with the crazy call to preach.
Come back next week to read my first interview with Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber.