We began the “Sixty Second Sermon” series at Pray Tell last Advent, and readers tell us they love it. Some preachers report that these one-minute sermons give them good starting points for their lengthier Sunday homily or sermon . Pray Tell readers will be interested in the following suggestions we have sent out to our roster of preachers. How many of these points apply to all preaching? – awr
Be yourself, in the way that is most sincere and authentic for you. Don’t be afraid to let your unique personality come through – whether that is extroverted, reflective, analytical, humorous, poetic, or something else. Play to your personal strengths: it is your “schtick” that will draw the listener in.
Have a point, and only one. Everything in your sermon leads to this, flows from this, and drives your decisions about what to include. Your point should be the main thing you want to stick with the listener.
Don’t be dull. Online listeners have short attention spans. If you have a dull patch that goes on for more than 10 seconds, you may have lost them.
- Emotion is interesting.
- Humor is interesting.
- A unique insight is interesting.
- Stories and anecdotes are interesting.
- Drama is interesting.
- Creative turns of phrase are interesting.
- Depth of conviction is interesting.
Don’t be content with teaching religious and theological stuff. Tell us how the Reign of God – grace – is at work in today’s world and real people’s lives, and how the Gospel speaks to that.
Don’t summarize or re-tell the Gospel reading. Apply its message to the real world and real life.
Think of using evocative rather declarative language.
“Humans have a tendency to mark important moments with family gatherings and meals” is rather abstract. This is more evocative:
→ “I can still smell the pumpkin pie as I walk into my Grandma’s kitchen, all these decades after her passing – the smell of celebration, the smell of love.”
“The Gospel mandate is to serve others, even when it makes us uncomfortable,” by itself, is rather abstract. It might be illustrated with language like this:
→ “The man at the food shelf stunk. He burped when he spoke to me.”
Make sure your interesting elements – joke, the anecdote, the saying – are tied to your main point. Sometimes it takes a bit of thinking to find just the right thing.
Use what is helpful in these suggestions and forget the rest. Be creative and go in the direction you want with this. It is your creativity which is most likely to go viral!
Featured image: from Clip Art Library.