The pastors who preached on Sunday presented their practice sermons today. Once again I split them into two groups. I mixed up the groups from yesterday so that they could get to know more people. One group stayed at the church, and one group went to the guesthouse. It was such a joy to watch the discussions that followed the presentations. I couldn’t understand them, but I could see that they were lively. And the group that stayed at the church went right on discussing through breakfast time! I actually went to the leader and pointed at my watch, but they didn’t want to stop!
After all sermons and discussions were done, I asked the pastors to talk in pairs—and then with me—about what they had learned about preaching. Their answers warmed my heart and blessed my soul like few things ever have. Some of what they said:
• I learned how to prepare a sermon and make it clear.
• I learned how to use the introduction to help people pay attention.
• I learned the importance of calling for a definite response at the conclusion.
• The Big Idea is like a sign that leads me home.
• I feel more confident to preach now.
• Having to do a 10-minute practice sermon made me realize my sermons don’t have to be long. (I was amazed at how many pastors expressed sincere appreciation for having to do a short timed sermon. This was said over and over. )
• When I go back to my church and preach, the people are going to say, “Two weeks? It seems like you’ve been studying for a year!”
Dear reader, you have no idea how good it feels to know that God has used me to help these pastors. Life is hard here, and these pastors face enormous challenges. Stuff that I’ve never had to deal with. These guys are not just pastors—they’re community leaders, social workers, evangelists, entrepreneurs, designers and builders of church buildings—and farmers. And they do all that with hardly any education. Thank you God, and thank you Covenant Community, that I’ve been able to come here and do this.