This is part 2 of a 2 part blog.
6. Ask- what image do I need to drive home? Is there an image that is the crux of the text? Is there a metaphor that captures the essence of your message? Learn to find that, build your sermon around that, and leave that as the last thought I the sermon. For example, I think the Prodigal Son is carried by the two images of a father running to a lost son and of a father begging his elder son to come into the party. Those images were my conclusion to that sermon.
7. Find a way to physically act in a way that will make this come alive. I one time preached about how God is not limited by our expectations and demands on him. The phrase I kept using in writing the sermon was that God would not stay in our box. I finally thought of actually preaching the sermon while standing in a box. At one point I kicked my way out of the box in very dramatic fashion. This was a way of physically embodying the point of the sermon.
8. Ask- how can people respond to this sermon? Sometimes a message demands a response by people. If we can give them the opportunity to do that then we can make the sermon more impactful. I was preaching about Paul’s metaphors of bearing each other’s burdens and that each should carry their own loads. When people entered the sanctuary they were given a brick (or part of a brick) to hold. After the sermon, as people came up for communion, they laid their bricks down to signify their own struggle to do what Paul is talking about. The response carried the sermon.
9. Don’t build the sermon around points. The modern way of preaching was to be logical and build your sermon around 3 points. You got a bonus if all the points started with the same letter or spelled some kind of word. I suggest that for more creativity you should build your sermon around metaphors. Paul and James do this quite a lot, as does John though he is more subtle with them.
10. Don’t read the text in worship before the sermon. Ask where in the sermon you can read the text to have the most impact. I sometimes read my sermon in the middle of the sermon, sometimes I read it slowly throughout the sermon. I have even read the sermon at the end. I know of churches that do the scripture reading at the beginning of the service so that the entire worship service is seen through the text. Experiment.
Bonus: Change where the sermon is in your service. I think that some sermons should be earlier in the service. Some should be later. I have even done sermons in two or three parts throughout the service and let them build on one another.