9 Steps to improve your sermon

 1. Use superlatives

When we think about our past, we usually remember the superlatives: Whether it’s “The worst day in my life”, “The funniest situation in my life” or “The most surprising moment in my life” – such stories hold more than enough material for narrative. Review your life again and think of three superlatives that you have experienced. Pick one and make a story out of it.

Example:
Das The most gripping experience two weeks ago was the encounter with a bishop who declared: “I have become aware that Christianity has become a “thorn in the flesh of society”!

 

2. “Do not tell me that the moon shines…”

… show me rather its gleam of light on a piece of broken glass”, the Russian playwright and author Anton Chekov once said. What did he mean by that? When writing, the most important thing is to describe: how instead of what. Think about how the following sentences become more vivid:

Example:

She gets tired -
Ihre Eyes get heavy and she blinks at him from small eye slits. Yawning she rubs her eyes.

It’s snowing outside. 
Diese little white crystal stars tumbled down from the sky and I thought I could hear their loud giggles.

 

3. Body signals

Describe how you are feeling right now – from top to toe. Close your eyes and listen to your body. Are you hungry, does something itch or tickle, is your mouth dry, have you run a blister in your new shoes? Describe how it feels. This way you learn to perceive feelings more intensely and then describe them. Emotions touch hearts.

Example: I was shocked at first, and then a wild determination built up inside me.

 

4. Autopilot

Especially if you have a creative hole and don’t know how to get on with it, this is a perfect exercise. Just switch to the autopilot mode and dare to do the so-called automatic writing. Automatic writing means: you take your pen in your hand and don’t stop writing – not even for a second.

 

Exercise: Sit down comfortably, put your feet on the floor, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Concentrate on smells, sounds, and thoughts for three minutes. Then open your eyes again and start writing for fifteen minutes. When you look at your spontaneous literary effusions at the end of this exercise, you will be surprised by the result.

 

5. What if…?

Think of “what if” scenarios and spin a story. Example:

What if… I never met one person in my life? What if… animals could talk?

When you take your listeners to one of these imaginary worlds, you awaken in them the desire to go there.

 

Example: How would it be if tomorrow Christianity was in the center of the media topics? If every day on the front page of the Frankfurter Allegemeine a statement of the Christians would be found?

 

6. Let objects speak

Find spontaneously an object from the room it – one that you particularly like. Put it in front of you and think: Why did I choose this particular object? How was it made and what was it made of? What happened to the object? Give the object a voice. Let it come to life and write a first-person narrative from its perspective: What does God want to say to you through this object?

Example: gemstone coasters – I am still up-to-date, valuable, and beautiful after thousands of years! My beauty does not fade – on the contrary – even if it is hidden and forgotten in the earth for a long time, one day it will burst forth and move into the center of people’s attention. I only have to let myself be dug up.

 

7. What a stupid thing to do!

Think of an object, such as a hand blender. Think of the thing in detail and describe it. Suddenly you get angry. You hate this thing. Yell at it. But what is it? Suddenly that thing screams back! Write an argument.

Example: (gemstone coaster) Why are you so mute? Huh? Why aren’t you alive? You let everything on you and don’t fight back! Get up! You are precious! Stand up and face the light, so God can see your beauty.

 

8. My soul hears by sight

Synaesthesia is called the connection of different areas of perception, e.g. hearing and seeing. For synaesthetes a perfume smells e.g. blue, i.e. several sensory impressions such as color perception and sense of smell merge with each other. For a literary text, synaesthetic impressions offer particularly creative and new ways of looking at the world around us. Why don’t you try out these little exercises to get a feel for it?

Practice:

How does love sound? 
Was is the color of hate? How does envy go? 
Wonach tastes sadness? Where does sorrow live? 
Was is the color of silence? How does sadness speak?

Example: What color is faint? Grey = neither dead nor alive. How does the determination go? Upright, with the eyes on the target. What does determination taste like? Spicy onions.

 

9. And last but not least, to gather beautiful and powerful words

Keep your eyes open. Interesting words and expressions are everywhere. On the packaging, in advertising, in magazines… If you find a fascinating word somewhere, cut it out, and collect it in a box. With time you will get such a rich vocabulary. Shuffle the cuttings and combine them – and find cool sentences for your sermon.

 

Example: Being a warrior in the swarm of indifference

Two weeks ago I met a bishop. He was a mixture of embers and gray. He frowned and squinted his eyes together as he kept reaching into the air with his hands as if to catch solutions flying around.

 

“I have become aware that Christianity has become a thorn in the flesh of society,” he explained. I was shocked at first, and then a wild determination reared its ugly head. How would it be if tomorrow Christianity was again at the top of the German agenda?

 

It’s like a gemstone speaking: “I am still up-to-date, valuable, and beautiful after thousands of years! My beauty does not fade – on the contrary – even if it is hidden and forgotten in the earth for a long time, one day it will burst forth and move into the center of attention. You only have to dig me up and hold me up to the light.”

I hear a call from heaven to us Christians: “Why are you so mute? Why do you not live? You allow Germany to fall away from God and start whispering? Get up! You are precious! Get up and stand in the light, so that God can show your strength.” Let us stand out from the grey masses, upright, with our eyes on the goal: Jesus Christ.

Being a warrior in the swarm of indifference.

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